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Perfectly Cast

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Rachel opened the cardboard mailing envelope with utmost care. She’d spent half her summer babysitting money to buy this book. She still couldn’t believe she’d been lucky enough to find a copy on eBay. Only one hundred had ever been printed, and that was decades ago. This was her new prize possession and the key to making her dreams come true. Now more than ever. Mr. Schue had told the newly-formed glee club this afternoon that he was leaving McKinley. Without him, the extra measures that Rachel was planning would be even more crucial.

Holding her breath, she slowly slid the volume out of the envelope. It was an odd shape, tall but narrow in width, bound in red leather and embossed with gold cursive lettering.

The Diva’s Essential Book
of
Broadway Spells

Rachel hugged the precious book to her chest and breathed deeply. It even smelled like magic! Not that she knew what magic smelled like. She’d never tried to cast any spells before. Talent and hard work had gotten her far in life, but you can only do so much before calling on deeper and more mysterious powers. She was ready to take this next step. She couldn’t let the glee club die. It was too important to her dreams and her future stardom.

Opening to the first page, Rachel scanned the table of contents. There were charms to protect and improve your singing voice, spells to remember lyrics and dance steps, luck spells for auditions, and much more.

What would be most useful to her right now? Her voice was already perfect. The dance steps Mr. Schue had choreographed were laughably simple. Spells for charisma and ticket sales were useless without a show to perform in. She slid her finger down the page line by line, rejecting spell after spell. None of them seemed helpful for her current situation. Until …

A Spell to Create Community Among Performers

Rachel’s curiosity was piqued. She turned to page thirty-seven and read the introductory paragraph.

No performing group can succeed unless they work as a team. All members of the cast and crew must be devoted to the performance and to each other. This is a gentle spell that will guide the hearts of your team toward each other and bring peace, joy, confidence, and community feeling to the entire group. Follow these simple steps:

A smile spread across Rachel’s face. The materials were all things she could find easily, and the instructions didn’t look too difficult, either. She set about putting them together immediately. When she was finished, a candle with marks in the wax had melted away completely and a rainbow of colorful embroidery threads were wound securely around toothpicks arranged in a hexagonal pattern.

Finn was at his locker when she snuck up behind the open door. He didn’t see her. Her thin fingers just barely fit between the back of the locker bank and the wall, where she attached the talisman with a piece of sticky tack just before he slammed the locker shut and startled at her presence. Though shaking, she managed to project confidence throughout the conversation with him.

“You’re better than all of them,” she admonished him before she walked away.

The words echoed in Finn’s head. They echoed all the way to the locker room where he changed into gym clothes. They echoed all the way out onto the football field where he did his warm-ups and sweated through his shirt. Why wouldn’t those words go away? She was just a Glee loser. She shouldn’t mean anything to him. Why couldn’t he get her out of his head? He was dropping out of glee club. He told Puck. The whole thing was over.

Until they locked Artie in the port-a-potty. Dissonance built up inside Finn. Glee club wasn’t over. It was … it was … he didn’t know why, but it felt like it was something huge in his life that was only just beginning. He couldn’t turn his back on it. He couldn’t turn his back on them. Even Artie, the loser in the wheelchair. He opened the port-a-potty door and, struggling to find a path through the confusion in his mind, wheeled Artie away from the football field.

Even as he strode into the auditorium and told the glee kids he wasn’t quitting, he didn’t quite know why he did it. It just felt … right. These were his new friends, right here on this unfamiliar stage that already felt like home.

Rachel’s frustration turned to relief as she realized that her spell was working. Finn was back, and not just grudgingly like before. He was back with conviction and confidence and leadership.

She hadn’t expected the spell would be powerful enough to reel Mr. Schue back in too, but it happened. Maybe she was as talented at spellcasting as she was at singing! Her whole body tingled with the excitement of power. There were whole new words to explore here, whole new opportunities to seize! Sophmore year was going to be – dare she even think it? – magical. 

Chapter Text

Terri Del Monico was seventeen years old when her mother sat her down for The Talk.

The key to a life of luxury and leisure, Mrs. Del Monico instructed her youngest daughter, is to choose a man too weak to resist you and bind him to serve you for a lifetime as your husband and provider.

“It worked for me,” Mrs. Del Monico said, gesturing at the room around her. They were seated in the living room of their recently-constructed home. The ceiling rose two stories above them, with a balcony hall running along one side of the room at the halfway point, between bedrooms on the second floor. A cheap but glittery chandelier lit the space; a sliding glass door was blocked with thick curtains so as not to cast glare on the big-screen TV taking up a prominent corner. “It will work just as well for you. Well, maybe not just as well, you’re not the brightest bulb, but you’ll get something, at least.”

Terri’s forehead wrinkled in both confusion and offense. “What do you mean, ‘bind’?”

“I mean exactly what I say,” Mrs. Del Monico said with a huff. “You use magic to bind him to your will. It’s simple. I’ll teach you just like I taught your sister a few years ago.”

Terri’s eyes widened. “You and Kendra do magic? Why didn’t I know anything about this before?”

“Because you were a child. Children aren’t people, they’re tools. But you’re seventeen now, which means it’s time to catch a man so he can support you instead of me.”

This was all too much to process. As she usually did when her mother was dismissive or mean to her, Terri nodded agreeably and waited for the next thing to happen.

“Now,” Mrs. Del Monico continued impatiently. “Have you given any thought to who you’d like to marry?”

Of course she hadn’t! She was only seventeen, she was still having fun and breaking hearts! But her mother expected an answer, so she hesitantly offered one. “Well … I’m dating Gavin Porter right now. He’s the captain of the football team. I like him a lot, so maybe—”

“Let me stop you right there.” Mrs. Del Monico squeezed the bridge of her nose as if fighting off a headache. “Have you not been listening to a word I’ve been saying? Gavin Porter can have any girl he wants. That makes you vulnerable. You need a man who’s weak. Someone who will feel lucky that you even deign to give him the time of day, let alone invite him into your bed.”

“Mother!”

“Get used to it now, Terri. Sex is powerful magic. Pregnancy – when it’s time for it, mind you, not too early – is like a grappling hook that reels them right in and doesn’t let go. But the man you choose can’t be too strong for your magic, or you’ll lose everything. Who else?”

Terri fumbled around in her mind, horror and panic chasing her in emotional circles. “How about Bryan Ryan? From the glee club, that’s pretty nerdy. He graduated last year and he’s in college now and—”

Mrs. Del Monico nodded thoughtfully. “I remember him. I like the college angle. An educated man can provide for you better. But I think he’s still too much of a charmer. You don’t want your husband to have magic ability that could compete with yours. Think weaker.”

“I don’t know … how about Will Schuester?”

A cruel sparkle lit up Mrs. Del Monico’s eyes. “Will Schuester. Yes. He’ll be perfect.”

Over the next few months, Terri’s mother tutored her in the art of binding a man to her will. Flirtation to draw him in. Monologues to weaken his spirit. Manufactured mood swings to throw him off guard. All through it, a slow and steady outpouring of magical energy. A gesture, a kiss, a precisely placed word. A series of steps designed to bring him ever closer, ever closer, until he wanted Terri’s approval more than any dream or goal he’d formerly had. Within two years, he had a wedding ring on his finger with magical binding spells infused into every single atom of white gold.

Terri was a competent student, but she didn’t have quite the natural knack for it that her mother and sister had. Will proved to be ridiculously stubborn on certain points. He insisted on becoming a high school teacher even after Terri had steered him to an accounting degree that could earn them far more money than a teacher’s puny salary. He had annoying passions for cars and singing that she let slide because they weren’t too troublesome. But she got most of what she wanted. Her home, though small, was filled with beautiful items that she’d chosen herself. She didn’t need to work a full-time job. He always let her choose the movies and restaurants they went to on date nights. It was a comfortable lifestyle, far better than she could have expected without magic.

But now, all of a sudden, it seemed to be slipping away. Terri had finally pulled out the big guns to get more money for their family. She’d planned a pregnancy without warning Will that she was going off her birth control. It almost worked, too. He applied for accounting jobs, but then at the last minute, for some unfathomable reason, he’d decided to stay at McKinley High.

No matter. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The binding spells were cumulative. She poured more energy into them, slow and steady so there was no chance Will would notice he was being manipulated. Every night and every morning she whispered magic-infused words about the baby into his ear. Magic-infused words about their family and their future and their future home. Magic-infused words about how much more this baby deserved.

At her suggestion, he took her house-shopping. Terri weaved her spell as they walked through the rooms. The grand foyer, the sun nook, the beautiful bedrooms for their beautiful future children. The words took hold and they transformed his mind, and he agreed to purchase far more than they could afford. The trap was sprung. When the debt began to accumulate, he’d agree to that accounting job after all, and everything would be right in the world. Terri rubbed her useful tool of a pregnant belly and breathed a sigh of relief.

Until the doctor told her there was no pregnancy at all.

The entire structure of her marriage – no, the entire structure of her life – teetered on an earthquake’s fault line.

She couldn’t do this. She wasn’t skilled enough. It was too much to handle, too hard, not a life of leisure at all!

She was going to tell him. When Will got home for dinner tonight, she would tell him there wasn’t a baby, and that would be the end of it. Maybe it wouldn’t all collapse. Maybe only a part of it, and she could rebuild again. He’d been so happy about the baby, maybe he’d agree to try again, intentionally (on his part) this time. Maybe she could rebuild the bindings more strongly, on firmer ground. Yes! She could do this. She’d weave a new spell, build him up, then begin again.

“There’s my man!” Terri seductively flicked the candle lighter as Will entered the apartment after his janitorial night shift. “Bringing home the bacon.”

It worked like a charm … well, like a spell, which was technically different than a charm, but let’s not quibble about the details.

Will sat at the table, already drawn in by her handiwork. “You know, I’ve been working so hard lately, sometimes I forget what I’m doing it for. Family’s so important to me. You, and the little guy or gal on the way. I hope you know that.” He smiled contentedly at her.

She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t destroy everything she’d worked so hard to create for herself. She opened her mouth to speak, and the words that came out stunned even her.

“It’s a boy.”

On the knife’s edge of fear and desperation, she worked as much magic as she safely could into a kiss and a tight, rocking hug.

Chapter Text

It didn’t seem weird to Mercedes while it was happening.

It seemed weird almost immediately after, though. She was still storming out of the parking lot when questions began piercing the fog of rage in her mind. As she was walking home, the fury and pain of Kurt revealing his crush on Rachel began to fade to a quiet throb in her heart. Meanwhile, the questions and confusion about what happened afterward piled up.

She’d thrown a rock through Kurt’s windshield. That much was certain. She felt incredibly shocked by her action now. She was a good person, a helpful friend, someone who went to church every Sunday because she believed in Jesus’s message of love and compassion, not just for show. It was hard to believe that such a worldly thing as a crush on a boy had turned her, Mercedes Jones, so quickly to violence and revenge. Walking past house after house on the endless suburban blocks, she began to feel ashamed of what she’d done.

The rock throwing was at least easy to explain. She was an imperfect human being, just like everyone else. She’d made a big mistake in the way she’d acted, and she would apologize to Kurt as soon as she saw him again.

But the other thing. That was something she didn’t know how to explain.

Hearing music that drifted in from nowhere. Bursting out into song. Bust Your Windows – she’d heard it on the radio a lot and had even sung along sometimes, but she hadn’t realized she knew all the lyrics. The weirdest thing was how the Cheerios had danced behind her with a choreographed routine. How had they all done the same dance without any planning or rehearsal? Was it possible that they’d been working on a cheer routine to that song? That could explain how the music had started, too. Maybe Coach Sylvester was playing it while working nearby, and the Cheerios had all decided to dance along like they’d been practicing. That was a pretty good explanation. That could have happened.

Except … Mercedes remembered being in the auditorium for part of the song. How had they gotten there? She had no memory of leading a pack of Cheerios from the parking lot into the auditorium. Even if they had, there was no way they could have gotten Kurt’s car in there and up on the stage. And … the Cheerios had crowbars in there. They were bashing the side windows of the car. Why would they do something like that? It made no sense whatsoever.

Especially when she realized that once the song ended, there was no damage to the car other than the original hole in the front windshield. They were instantly back outdoors, too, once the song was over. They definitely hadn’t driven Kurt’s car out of the auditorium and back into its exact same spot in the parking lot. There was no way that could have really happened.

Mercedes stopped short in the middle of the sidewalk. She must have been hallucinating. All of those things she remembered from the auditorium – there was no way they could be real. Was the whole thing a hallucination? The outdoor part, too? Maybe …  

Her throat felt raw, though. It at least felt like she’d been belting out a song without proper vocal warm-ups.

She couldn’t have been. Kurt would have said something. Mercedes mentally reviewed the conversation.

“I’m sorry, Mercedes, but I thought I made it very clear. I’m in love with someone else.”

“Rachel?”

“Yes. For several years now.”

Then the music … then the rock throwing … then the singing and dancing and the auditorium … and then everything suddenly dropped away and she was standing right there beside the car in the parking lot again. Not even in front of it where she’d danced, but beside it, right across from Kurt who was still gape-mouthed on the other side. And he said …

“You busted my window! How could you do that! You busted my window!”

“Well, you busted my heart.”

He hadn’t mentioned the singing. He didn’t say, “You busted my window and then went batshit crazy and danced around with the Cheerios and sang a song.”

It must have been a daydream. Mercedes forced herself to start walking towards home again. That was the only explanation. She was so angry at Kurt that she’d concocted a really elaborate daydream of throwing a rock through his windshield and singing a song about how mad she was.

Wait, no, the rock-throwing was real. Even though the music had started before she threw the rock, there was no denying that gaping hole in Kurt’s windshield. Gosh dangit, there was no way she could get this to add up.

Mercedes allowed herself a small smile. Gosh dangit. There was her usual self shining through again.

An unfamiliar tingle of electricity ran through her fingertips. It felt like … power.

If there was no rational explanation, then it could be only one thing. She knew there were some people who had a natural ability to use magic without any training. She’d just never imagined that she might be one of them.

Mercedes took a deep breath and let herself in the front door of her house. She wasn’t quite sure what had happened today, but whatever it was, she wouldn’t let it change her from who she was. She was a person who was good at heart and owed her friend Kurt a big apology. Start from there. Figure the rest out later.

Chapter Text

Time confuses Brittany.

How are you supposed to be able to tell which things have happened already and which haven’t happened yet? Nobody else ever seems to have a problem keeping it all sorted out. She knows it’s extremely rude to bring up things that haven’t happened yet. When she talks about the things that are true in the future, people usually get really mad and say she’s lying and that those things aren’t true. But they are true, even if they don’t happen until later.

And it’s always so blurry, like, how are other people so certain of which things are the future and which are the past? Brittany gets them mixed up all the time, and the other people yell at her, and she feels sad. Time is awful.

Anyway, that’s why she’s surprised when Tina brings up football. Brittany is eighty-one percent sure that Kurt hasn’t joined the team yet, but Tina is talking about it, so it must have happened already. Tina never screws these things up. Nobody does. Nobody except her.

They must be on the nineteen percent side of that probability, then. That actually helps things make more sense, now that Brittany thinks about it. Kurt must have asked her and Tina to help him with the dance routine because the football team had been working on it and he wanted more practice time. He’d already done a great job of it at his football audition, but Kurt of course would want everything to be perfect before the real game. The game hasn’t happened yet, has it? No, of course it can’t have, because Mr. Hummel is at the game so he wouldn’t have asked about the dance routine after that. Now must be between when Kurt joins the team and when Kurt wins the game.

The timeline feels way off, but timelines usually feel at least a little bit off to Brittany, so this is nothing unusual.

Since Tina brought it up and the timeline works out logically, Brittany talks about Kurt being on the football team, too. But Kurt shoots an angry look at her. What’s wrong? Is it supposed to be a surprise for his dad? Brittany can’t figure it out. She doesn’t understand how surprises work.

Why is Mr. Hummel asking whether Kurt is dating one of them? He knows Kurt is gay. Mr. Hummel knows, and Kurt tells him about it, and Kurt dates Brittany for a little while when Kurt doesn’t know about being gay – is that in the past? – and Kurt dates that British guy and the old man but mostly the charmer with the dark hair. Brittany doesn’t remember his name, so he must be in the future. She’s at their wedding, and it’s her wedding too, and Mr. Hummel performs the wedding, so obviously Mr. Hummel knows Kurt is gay.

Maybe he doesn’t know it yet? She’s ninety-four percent sure he knows already, but he asks it anyway.

Time confuses Brittany.

Chapter Text

Rachel easily mastered the first level of the Spotlight spell. The first level is simple; it just turns on a spotlight while you’re singing, in case the lighting crew isn’t up to its job or you’re in a room without built-in lights. She’d practiced it dozens of times in all different rooms, including her bedroom at home and even right here in the auditorium with Kurt.

The spell can be deepened significantly, though, according to the instructional notes in The Diva’s Essential Book of Broadway Spells. The lighting effect is the least of its powers. Done properly, the spell concentrates the attention of the audience and all the other performers on you, the star, and makes them understand that you are the essential ingredient in the show’s success.

In other words, it would give Rachel the respect and adoration she properly deserved, but which for some reason Sandy Ryerson and the motley cast he’d patched together for Cabaret were not bestowing on her like they should.

Spotlight can only be cast while singing. There are preparations beforehand, of course, but the implementation of the spell requires only two things: absolute belief in your own stardom, and singing a solo. Rachel had never once, not for a moment, questioned the fact that she was a star. She was rehearsing Maybe This Time this afternoon in the auditorium. Everything was in order. The jazz band started playing the intro music. Rachel took a deep breath. For a brief flicker of a moment, she wished she were in the choir room showing all her friends what they were missing. But no, she was here in the auditorium with the cast and director of Cabaret, and they would be the ones to know her true talent. She opened her mouth and began to sing.

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April had planned to sing a pop song for her glee club audition. Something fun and upbeat, something that would get the kids excited to sing and dance with her. But at the last minute, the music to one of her favorite Broadway songs started playing in her head, clear out of nowhere. April was never one to ignore a sign. She switched gears immediately, affected the uncertain demeanor of Sally Bowles at the beginning of Maybe This Time, and began to sing the song.

And wouldn’t you know it, the darnedest thing happened! The lights in the choir room dimmed even though nobody was fiddling with the light switch. And then, from the darkness, a spotlight rose on April. Where that light came from, she couldn’t have told you. She might have been drunk, except she’d made a special effort not to drink before her audition, since it was so important to Will. No, that spotlight came out of nowhere, but it was real as she was standing there. None of the kids seemed to think it was strange at all. Maybe there was a hidden light up there in the ceiling. No telling what kinds of new-fangled technology they’d put into this school since her day.

Whatever it was, it made her performance a big success. April Rhodes was the new star of New Directions.

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Rachel was an actress, and as an actress she didn’t break character. She made it all the way through the triumphant end of the song. On the inside, though, she was disappointed and puzzled. Why hadn’t the spell worked? Why didn’t the spotlight rise on her? Why was Sandy Ryerson telling her that she was an imposter and a failure? What on earth had happened to her Spotlight?

Chapter Text

Terri let herself be hustled into the room by her sister.

“Oh, honey, you look awful! What happened?” Kendra looked her up and down.

“I need to talk to you.” Terri glanced around the room, then leaned in for a hushed whisper. “In private.”

“Phil?” Kendra shouted up the staircase. “Take the kids out to see a movie.”

The bedraggled figure of her husband appeared on the landing. High-pitched shrieks emanated from one of the rooms. “But it’s a school night. I’ve already started bedtime.”

Kendra sneered at him. “They never sleep anyway. Get them out of here. Terri and I need to have a girl talk.”

Phil sighed unhappily. “Yes, dear.”

Kendra pulled Terri into the kitchen, where she made coffee while all the bangs and yells of getting three hyperactive boys ready to leave the house went on without any notice from her. Once the garage door opened and the house was quiet, the two of them went to sit in the living room.

“Now, what is going on?” Kendra asked her sister.

“I don’t know!” Terri said in a panicked voice. “My spells on Will aren’t working anymore! It’s like they’re slipping away! And some of my spells on other people didn’t work very well, either, or they only worked for a little while and then they wore off way too soon. I don’t know what’s causing it!”

“Whoa, whoa, back up a step.” Kendra leaned forward. “How many spells have you been casting?”

“Well …” Terri tried to count up in her head, but she lost track. “I’ve been using Convince a lot. First on Principal Figgins so he would hire me to be the school nurse at McKinley…”

“Hold up. Why did you want to be the school nurse?”

“To keep an eye on Will, of course!”

Kendra nodded understandingly. “Of course. Go on.”

Terri put her hand to her forehead. “I heard a rumor that Will is interested in another woman. The guidance counselor at the school. And from what I saw while I was there, it’s true. It’s horrifying! So I had to cast Repel on her every time we talked, as strongly as possible.”

“Smart,” Kendra said. “Men are tramps. That binding spell is the only thing that gets them to keep it in their pants. You haven’t been neglecting the binding spell, have you?”

“Well…” Terri hesitated.

“Terri! What were you thinking?”

“It’s not like I did it on purpose! I still cast it every day, and renew the charms on his wedding ring whenever I touch it. But you know that sex magic is the strongest, and I can’t have sex with him now! Not when I’m wearing this pregnancy pad twenty-four hours a day!”

Kendra winced. “Oh, honey, I hadn’t thought about that. But you’ve been binding that man for years, you should be able to withhold sex for a good six months without it slipping!”

Terri shook her head. “I’ve never been as strong a witch as you and Mom. I should have seen this coming. But I don’t understand why my Convince charm stopped working on Principal Figgins after I got caught.”

Kendra’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “Caught at what?”

“Oh … well, I might have used Convince to get the students to believe I was a real nurse. And a little bit on Finn Hudson with his girl problems. And also on Quinn Fabray when she asked me for money. And I cast a very strong one on Ken Tanaka, the football coach, to get him to ask the guidance counselor to marry him, to distract her from Will. Cubic Zirconia! How was I supposed to know he wouldn’t use a real diamond ring when he proposed? I had to make the spell ten times as strong as otherwise.”

“You’ve done burned yourself out, that’s what you’ve done.” Kendra relaxed back onto the couch cushions.

“Burned myself out?” Terri asked, her eyes wide with fear.

“Oh, don’t worry, the magic will come back to you. You just need to rest a bit. Don’t use any magic for the next week or so. You’ll feel it in your veins when you’re back to full strength.”

“But I can’t wait a week! Will is already angry with me! He told me – get this – he told me he needs his space!”

Kendra’s expression could not have been more shocked and horrified. “You’re right, sis. You need to wipe that out right away. Let me think.”

Tears welled up in Terri’s eyes as Kendra drummed her fingers against the arm of the couch.

“Maybe I should just tell him the truth,” Terri said softly.

“Don’t you dare!” Kendra insisted. “No, here’s what you do. Be the perfect, supportive wife. Give him no reason to complain. Cook dinner. Give him a blow job. Do everything the magic makes him think you do all the time even though you never do. Then, when you’re back up to your normal magical strength, get back in the game and he won’t know the difference at all.”

Terri took a deep breath. Kendra was right. This would work. It would be hard, but she could make it through. After all, it was only a week. “Thank you, Kendra. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d be divorced and poor without me, that’s what you’d be.” Kendra stood up from the couch, effectively dismissing Terri. “Now get out of here so I can enjoy me some peace and quiet without Phil and the boys.”

Chapter Text

Dear Journal,

Some people call it “wrong” or “immoral” to summon a demon from the underworld, trap it in the empty cavity where your heart used to be, and force it to serve you for the rest of your life. Not Sue Sylvester. I call it smart! Without ole’ Sulfuricus in there, I would never be able to read minds, bend others as pawns to my will, rampage through the halls of McKinley while dramatic music plays out of nowhere, sleep with any celebrity of my choosing, create hilarious situations for my own amusement, have a segment on the local news, extend my youth and life past the common human range, pull other people into my own voiceovers, or any of the other myriad little things that keep life interesting. Nay, without my demon, I would have had to settle for being the winningest cheerleading coach in history as my sole notable accomplishment.

Not to say that hosting a demon inside my bosom is always sunshine and roses. It has its ups and downs. Sometimes Sulfuricus refuses to cooperate, at which point I’m forced to bring him back in line with unpleasant procedures such as coffee enemas and self-flagellation. And I have to stay at the peak of physical and mental perfection so he doesn’t gain control over me instead of the other way around as God intended. Has this happened? Well … I don’t like to talk about that time in 1969 when I egged Queen Elizabeth II while she was sunbathing nude on her private Balmoral estate. These things happen. The past is best left in the past.

But these are minor inconveniences. I like to focus on what truly matters. Such as how Sue Sylvester and Sulfuricus are a team. A family. A unit of power, chaos, and destruction that exists to be focused on a worthy enemy. An enemy such as Will Schuester and his miserably joyful glee club.

Until next time,

Sue Sylvester

Chapter Text

Quinn has only the slightest hint of magical ability, but that’s all a good Christian woman should properly need.

“You look so grown up like this, darling!” her mother exclaimed. They smiled at each other in the mirror. She knew she was an awkward tween, overweight and with disproportionate features, but in this moment of bonding with her mother she could almost imagine that wasn’t true.

Mrs. Fabray took a blending brush to her twelve-year-old daughter’s face for one last touch-up in their makeup tutorial. She leaned back and admired her work. “Perfect. Now for the final step, a lady’s secret weapon. Remember, it’s secret. You must never tell any man about this, especially not your father. Do you understand?”

She nodded, perplexed about what her mother had in mind but willing to do anything for her approval. Mrs. Fabray picked up her glass with a shaking hand, the ice tinkling quietly, and took a furtive sip of the vodka tonic.

“Close your eyes and take a deep breath,” Mrs. Fabray instructed. “Form a picture in your mind. A picture of yourself as you wish you would appear. Flawless beauty. Effortless grace. Exactly the way you’d like others to see you.”

Mrs. Fabray paused. “Do you have it? Is the picture there in your mind?”

She nodded again. She could see herself tall, thin, with a dancer’s athleticism. The picture was present in great detail. Of course she’d daydreamed about this many times before. In her fantasy, everyone called her by her middle name, Quinn.

“Good, Lucy, honey. Now you must believe in it completely. Concentrate as hard as you can, and you’ll feel a tingle right in your heart. Hold that, magnify it, and use it to make that image into truth.”

Her mother drew in a sharp breath. “Beautiful, darling! Open your eyes and look at yourself in the mirror.”

The face that had reflected back at Quinn that day wasn’t one she recognized. It was halfway between the beauty of her imagination and the concealed ugliness of her face with makeup. It was an improvement, certainly. The magic spell her mother taught her could make her look decidedly average.

It wasn’t Quinn’s magical ability that was to blame for the incomplete transformation. No, it was in the nature of the spell. A glamour is the gentlest of spells, the only one that doesn’t call on dark forces forbidden by Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior. A glamour shows people the aspects of you that you’d like them to see, and hides from them the aspects you’d rather keep out of sight. It works together with the expectations of the observer. Not enough beauty to build on, and your glamour will go nowhere. Too many contrary expectations from others, and you’ll have similar problems.

Quinn and her family had worked hard over the past few years to give her a stronger basis to build her glamour on. The nose job worked wonders, allowing her to make every other feature of her face appear perfectly proportioned. She began to exercise and lose weight, allowing the glamour to make her figure seem absolutely ideal. She switched schools to escape the drag of prior expectations. With those qualities secured, she was able to earn herself a Cheerios uniform, which marked her as an elite in the eyes of all her peers. On top of the Cheerios uniform, Quinn could build an even more impervious glamour. One that was strong enough to hide a growing baby bump.

For a while, anyway.

As more and more people found out about the pregnancy, as the amount of dissonance between her true figure and her projected one grew, her spell began to flicker and fail. Her popularity waned. Her boyfriend was slushied. She knew she could be the target of the next one.

Quinn cast about in a desperate panic, searching for anything that would allow her to hang on to her position in high school society just a little bit longer. She even asked the supremely uncool guidance counselor for advice on what would make her seem more popular.

Sunglasses?

Not a permanent solution by any means, but maybe it would be enough to last her another week or two. It was worth a try.

The next morning, Quinn looked at herself in the mirror. Her Cheerios uniform was snug but concealing. Her makeup was perfect. Her ponytail was tight. She slipped on a pair of sunglasses, and then closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and formed a picture in her mind. A picture of herself as she wished she would appear.

Chapter Text

The diva-off was over. He needed to put it out of his mind. Kurt walked out of the choir room purposefully. Focus on the immediate task, he told himself. Move to the next thing. It was how he’d always coped with emotional pain and uncomfortable truths, and he could do it again now. Locker. Books. Car. Home. He could make it.

He knew he’d made the right choice – or at least, the choice he could live with. What he hadn’t expected was that something even more upsetting than intentionally missing the note would happen to him during his performance. That was the thing he needed to make himself forget. Locker. Books. Car. Home.

He didn’t hear Mercedes calling his name. She tugged at his sleeve to slow him down. He turned to look at her and let his pace slow a bit, but he didn’t stop completely. If he stopped moving, he might not be able to hold it together. What had happened back there?

“What happened back there?” Mercedes echoed Kurt’s own thoughts.

“I couldn’t hit the high note.” Kurt blinked his eyes hard and kept on walking. His locker was only a few feet away. Locker. Books. Car. Home.

Mercedes shook her head. “You might be able to fool Rachel and Mr. Schue with that excuse, but not me. You owned that song. I’ve never seen anything like that performance you gave. It wasn’t the high note that tripped you up, it was a couple seconds before that. I saw it. What happened?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Kurt refused to meet Mercedes’s eyes.

“Kurt.” Mercedes’s voice was hushed but urgent. “There was magic flying all around that room. Did you lose hold of the spell you cast, or did Rachel cast something to sabotage you?”

His locker was only two steps away, but there was no way he could reach it. His head spun, and the students around him seemed to fade into a blur of sight and sound. At a dead standstill, Kurt turned to face his friend.

“I don’t do magic.”

Mercedes tilted her head to one side and gave him a reproachful look. “You don’t really expect me to believe that, do you? I saw it with my own eyes.”

“I’ve never studied magic. I don’t know any spells. I didn’t cast anything.” Panic threatened to take over completely. Kurt’s eyes shifted from side to side, looking for an escape route. If he tried to walk away, would Mercedes let him leave?

“Oh, honey …” Mercedes’s eyes were wide with sympathy. “You didn’t know, did you?”

“Sort of?” Kurt managed.

Mercedes put her hand on the small of Kurt’s back, and he let himself be led past his locker, down the hall, and into the library. Mercedes signed in for one of the study rooms, then ushered him inside and closed the door.

“You’re magic, Kurt. Like me.”

“When did you find out? About yourself, I mean.” Kurt was eager to take the attention off himself.

“Ah … well … funny story.” Mercedes blushed. “Remember when I threw that rock through your windshield?”

“That’s the kind of thing that’s hard to forget.”

“Yeah … I’m sorry about that, again. Anyway, when I did that, there was this rush of music out of nowhere and then I sang a song. I danced, too, with all the Cheerios, right there at the car wash, while you were still standing there crying about your windshield being broken. Remember that?”

“Uh … no?”

“Right. That’s because it was magic.”

Kurt wrinkled his forehead in confusion. “So you’re saying you threw a rock through my windshield, then cast a spell to stop time so you could sing a song about it, and then when the spell wore off you yelled at me and stormed away?”

Mercedes shook her head. “Well, yes and no. It wasn’t really stopping time, but I don’t know what it was exactly. The important part is that I didn’t cast a spell. Not consciously, at least. It just happened.”

“Have you talked to anyone about this? Like, a psychologist?” As much as Kurt wanted to believe that Mercedes was spouting nonsense, he couldn’t fool himself. He knew in his soul that it was all real.

“I talked to my pastor.”

“And?” Kurt prompted.

“He said there’s three kinds of people in the world. Most can’t do magic at all. Some can do it if they study and practice and learn the skills they need. And then some people just are magic. The magic lives in them and flows through them. They can learn to control it, but they don’t need to learn to do it. They’re born with it. That’s how I am. And that’s how you are, aren’t you?”

Kurt closed his eyes. The image of his mother floated before his eyes, power illuminating her from the inside as she reached out her hand to him. For years, he’d done his best to avoid letting himself think about it, but it was inescapable. It wasn’t something to talk about directly, but he was like her; his father said so often enough. Kurt had always known deep down that he was magic, much the same way he’d always known deep down that he was gay. This coming-out was just as hard as the other one, and carried just as many consequences for his life.

He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. “Rachel didn’t sabotage me.”

“Are you sure?” Mercedes asked. “She cast a spell to make herself sing better. I don’t know what it is, but it’s the same one she does every time she sings a solo. She might have learned one to sabotage you, I wouldn’t put it past her.”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Kurt said. “I messed up the song on purpose. It was harder than I thought it would be. That’s why I got so flustered. That’s what you noticed, wasn’t it? I thought I would just sing the note flat when I got to it, but I was up there and singing and everything about the song felt … different. Not like when I sing alone in my room or in the chorus on stage. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was … there was all this momentum and I had to break it earlier or that high note would have just sung itself … I’m sorry, I don’t know how to describe any of this. It’s so … different.”

Mercedes nodded. “You weren’t singing that song. You were bringing it to life.”

“So you’re saying I murdered it.” A wry smile tickled Kurt’s mouth.

“Strangled it, sounded like!” Mercedes grinned. “Your sense of humor’s coming back. Now I know you’re going to be okay.”

Kurt finally felt like he could breathe fully again. “Thank you, Mercedes. Figuring all of this out will be a lot easier if we can do it together.”

“That’s what friends are for!” Mercedes hugged him, and it felt surprisingly nice. “And don’t you think I know what I’m doing or anything. I’m barely two steps ahead of you with this stuff, so I’m happy to have your help, too.”

They got up from the table and walked back out into the library, pinkies linked as they walked side by side.

“Wait a minute,” Mercedes said as they entered the hallway. It was now much emptier, since most of the students had gathered their books and gone home for the afternoon. “Why did you want to lose the diva-off in the first place? You fought so hard for the chance to audition, and then you threw it all away. What’s up with that?”

Kurt sighed. “Come on, I’ll drive you home. We can talk about it in the car.”

Chapter Text

Excerpt from The Diva’s Essential Book of Broadway Spells

Enthrall: A Spell to Fascinate and Entrance the Audience

A diva’s task is not only to sing her heart out. She must also play a role so well she makes the audience believe her character is real. Her character’s feelings must play out in the hearts of her audience as they play out on the stage. This spell transfers the emotions of a song to the people listening to the song. The effects may last anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on the amount of magical energy put into the spellcasting.

Cautionary notes:

  1. People under the sway of Enthrall are not aware that their feelings aren’t grounded in their own reality. They may make unexpected choices that they later regret. For this reason, it is recommended that you not make the spell last beyond the end of the performance. This is particularly true for performances involving themes of death or love. It will take some practice to calibrate the amount of energy to properly use.
  2. For the spell to correctly transfer to your audience, they must already be focusing their attention on your performance. The enthrallment travels on the words of the song, to which they must be listening. If their minds have wandered to other subjects, the spell will be ineffective on them. You must command their attention with your own charisma and skill before casting.
  3. Divas, as you may have heard, have a reputation for being rather self-centered. No, not you, my dear, of course I don’t mean you! Your concern for the feelings of others is notable and admirable. For this spell, you will need that selflessness. A song naturally wants to enthrall its singer first, and the person to whom it is sung second. Your focus on the audience’s experience of your performance is essential to ensure that you are not yourself caught in the spell.

To cast the spell, gather the listed ingredients and then carefully perform the following steps …

Chapter Text

“Are you an exorcist?”

Quinn can barely stifle a laugh in response. As if Kendra’s children needed such strong magic! As if Quinn had the powerful magical abilities an exorcism required! As if, even if she could do it, she would ever stoop to such a level.

Yet Quinn is unnerved by what she’s done tonight. A Charm is barely more than a Glamour, but it’s a step down that road away from Christ and toward damnation. Her father sees her as a sinner, and her mother, too. She had sex before marriage, and now she’s using Charms. Two in one night. One to calm the misbehaving little brats she was babysitting, and another to draw Puck toward her. Just a tiny step more than a Glamour, but where will it end?

Chapter Text

The end of a spell can be its most dangerous moment. Ideally, the conjurer can make it fade out slowly, either through deliberate effort or by leaving it to dissipate through a channeled path. However, when a spell is broken before its intended end, the consequences can be unexpected and sometimes even violent.

Terri knew all this in theory. Watching it happen in front of her for the first time, though, nearly destroyed her. The binding spell was never supposed to come to an end. She’d been casting it on Will for more than fifteen years, adding to its strength and power every single day. For most of that time, he’d been fully in thrall to her. These past weeks, as the spell began to fray, she’d thrust more and more power into it, as much as she could handle and, desperately, beyond her strength.

She walked the razor’s edge.

And then she fell.

Wild whips of magical energy flayed at Terri and Will, ripping all their connections apart. With his bonds suddenly unfurled, Will stretched his withered muscles and lashed out, unused to controlling himself. Shards of Terri’s shattered soul pierced through her body, seeking a path out of their chaos. Years of structure and routine and expectation vanished in an instant.

Anything could happen now. Terri was powerless to stop it.

Will walked out the door, and everything was over.

Everything.

Gone.

Chapter Text

Step step step arms turn … Kurt suppressed a huff of frustration. In twenty minutes he and the rest of New Directions would be performing this routine on stage in front of judges, with the future of their group on the line. He didn’t have time to be frustrated. He needed to learn this last-minute choreography Brittany had come up with. He took a deep breath and was about to give it another try when he noticed Rachel standing in an unobtrusive spot in the corner of the room. She wasn’t practicing. She was watching them and mumbling something, her left hand making swirling motions with her fingers held in an unnatural position. His eyes widened.

“Mercedes,” he whispered.

“Hmm?” Mercedes was so absorbed in learning the steps that she didn’t even look up.

“It’s Rachel,” Kurt whispered, more urgently now. “She’s casting a spell.”

Mercedes looked up. Her eyes settled on Rachel. “Oh hell to the no,” she muttered under her breath.

The two of them stalked off in Rachel’s direction, trying not to draw attention to themselves. Everyone else was absorbed in their own practice, but Rachel saw them coming. She clasped her hands behind her back and pressed her lips tightly together.

“Rachel,” Mercedes hissed when they were close enough for her to hear. “What do you think you’re doing? You’re going to get us disqualified. Again.”

Rachel spectacularly failed at looking innocent. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m watching the choreography. Since I’ll be front and center, I have to blend with what everyone else is doing without exactly matching.”

Kurt wasn’t buying it for a second. “We know you’re using magic, Rachel. That’s just as bad as cheating like the other teams are doing. You’ve got to stop.”

“It’s not against the rules,” Rachel blurted. She clapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes widening for a moment at giving away her secret. Then she sighed and her shoulders slumped a little. “It’s not,” she insisted.

Mercedes rolled her eyes. “You cannot possibly tell me that the show choir competition rules allow teams to use magic. What’s the difference between that and a magic competition?”

“After the mattress incident, I read the rulebook cover to cover.” Rachel quoted from memory. “Rule 9, section 32, subsections A through D. Spells may not be cast to enhance a show choir performance, including but not limited to vocal, dance, music, costume, props, lighting, or special effects. Magic may not be used to influence the judges or affect the judging or results in any way. However, magical rehearsal techniques are permitted. Pursuant the Magical Persons Non-Discrimination Act, students with inherent magic abilities may participate in show choir competitions even when their abilities manifest during the performance.”

Rachel went barreling on. “Personally I think it’s unfair that inherently magical people can use their magic while those of us with hard-earned magical skills can’t, but inherent magic is so rare that it’s unlikely to be a factor, at least for Sectionals.”

Kurt and Mercedes exchanged guilty glances. Their abilities still remained secret from everyone but each other. Neither of them had thought about what it could mean for competitions. They were still trying to figure out how it affected their personal lives.

Mercedes recovered first. She put her hands on her hips. “So what, exactly, were you casting.”

“Memory spells,” Rachel said. “So everyone can learn the choreography and the lyrics faster. I was going to try enhanced coordination if I had time. Which I won’t, if you two keep interrupting me.”

Kurt and Mercedes exchanged another wary look.

“Fine,” Kurt said. “Just be careful.”

Rachel winked at him. “Always!”

Kurt rolled his eyes in response. “Come on, Mercedes. Spell or not, we’ve got to learn these steps.”

Chapter Text

Rachel Berry is a ridiculously easy mark. Jesse feels amusement and pity, but not an ounce of it shows on his face. Here he is, one of the most talented young sorcerers of his generation, wasting his time on the seduction of an unremarkable little girl. It’s worth it to stay in Miss Corcoran’s good graces, of course, but he wishes he could test his mettle against a real opponent for once.

He’d hoped Rachel would put up at least a little bit of a fight. She’s a witch-in-training, after all, and should be more of a challenge than someone who doesn’t use any magic. But her training is scandalously poor. Has this girl ever even heard of shielding? Apparently not. She’s incredibly susceptible to music-based magic. Two notes on the piano and she’s already lost. He didn’t even have to lift his own voice in song to draw her in.

This is so simple it’s insulting. Miss Corcoran could have cast this spell herself, dried-up crone or not.

Rachel does sing well, though. Their voices blend beautifully. His superior voice carries hers, naturally, but with some proper training, she might end up being not half bad. It’s enjoyable to imagine the possibilities. Something to pass the time in his mind while his face and voice and fingers on the piano keys weave the spell cleanly to its end.

Jesse wonders if she’ll kiss as well as she sings. The whole assignment is far below his skill level, but it might have its pleasures along the way.