Hecate’s office was silent as she marked the second year’s potion’s essay’s. Only a handful of her students had scraped an average pass at most making her wonder if the girls even bothered to read the notes she had given them. She was no more than halfway through marking Mildred Hubble’s essay when there was a knock at her door.
“Enter.” Hecate called as she continued to mark Mildred Hubble’s essay wondering if the girl would ever learn to follow simple instructions.
“Bad day?” Ada asked walking into her wife’s office and taking a seat on one of the leather chairs in front of her desk.
Hecate looked up, her eyes softening at seeing the knowing twinkle in Ada’s eyes.
“No more than usual. It seems the girl’s grades are declining rather than improving.”
“They’re still young, Hecate. Give them time.” Ada remarked softly.
“Yes, but give them too much time, and they will never reach their full potential.”
Ada looked down at the essay in front of Hecate noticing the vast amount of red ink that seemed to be covering the parchment. “Let me guess, Mildred Hubble’s essay by any chance?”
“You know it is, Ada. Sometimes I think that girls head is up in the clouds. Perhaps if she spent less time conspiring with Enid Nightshade, and focused more on her studies she would be scraping more than a pass.”
“Why Hecate, it seems you have gone soft. It’s as if you believe Mildred has the potential to be a witch after all.” Ada felt her lip twitch trying to suppress a smile.
“I wouldn’t go that far, Ada, but yes I will admit that Mildred Hubble does does have the potential she just chooses not to acknowledge it.”
“Perhaps, but maybe if…”
The rest of Ada’s words were cut off as the door to Hecate’s office was suddenly blasted open sending wood splintering in all directions.
Hecate and Ada stood up on guard as a familiar figure walked into the room.
“Well, well, isn’t this cozy.” The intruder remarked scanning her surroundings.
“What do you want, Agatha?” Ada asked never taking her eyes off her sister.
“What I’ve always wanted dear sister, the deeds to the school along with the title of Headmistress which is rightfully mine.”
Hecate had to refrain from rolling her eyes, she was beginning to grow tired of this petty feud.
“The school will never be yours Agatha, not while I’m still alive.” Ada argued trying not flinch as Agatha’s cruel laugh echoed around Hecate’s office.
“Yes, I thought you might say that, Ada, which is why I have decided to take care of you and your loyal Deputy for good this time.”
Hecate moved to stand in front of Ada, refusing to let Agatha anywhere near her.
“Do you honestly think you can protect her, Hecate.” Agatha taunted with a sneer.
“I don’t think, I know and it’s time for you to leave!” Hecate ordered just as her eyes caught movement in the corridor outside.
“I’m not going anywhere. You however, well your time is soon coming to an end, Hecate.” Agatha snapped throwing a spell in the Potion Mistresses direction, which she easily deflected.
“You’re going to have to try harder than that, Agatha.”
“Yes, I believe you’re right.” Agatha smirked as she pulled a small vial from the pocket on her suit jacket. “I do need to try harder.”
Hecate’s eyes widened as she pushed Ada to the side, just as Agatha threw the vial towards her.
A loud explosion filled the small office causing Ada to turn to see Hecate blasted off her feet as the potion destroyed her protective barrier.
“Hecate!” Ada cried running over to her fallen wife checking her over for any injuries.
“You need to leave. I’ll hold her off.” Hecate whispered, getting to her feet with Ada’s help.
“I’m not leaving you.” Ada vowed, “You can’t face her alone.”
The sound of running footsteps caused all three occupants to turn to see Miss Drill, Miss Bat and Mr Rowan-Webb standing in the doorway.
“It seems the cavalry has finally arrived.” Agatha looked at each of them, “you’re just in time for the finale.”
“How did you get out of the picture?” Miss Drill asked casting a sideways glance over to Ada and Hecate making sure they were unharmed.
“A close friend shall we say.” Agatha looked over Miss Drill’s shoulder with a smile.
Miss Drill turned, her face paling at seeing Miss Gullet and Miss Mould blocking the doorway in a united front.
“I knew it.” Hecate hissed taking a shaky step forward towards Miss Mould, only for Ada to place her hand on her arm.
“Why?” Ada asked in disappointment regretting her decision for not listening to Hecate’s earlier suspicions about the art teacher.
“It’s time for a school that is free from rules and restrictions. Cackles will no longer be run by the Witches Code, or bow to the Great wizard. The only way for that to happen is to eliminate the weak links, and those who are loyal to the old ways. A change is coming to Cackles, and there is nothing you or Miss Hardbroom can do to stop it.”
“You’ll be given a choice Miss Drill. You can either join us or meet the same fate as Ada and Miss Hardbroom. The choice will be yours, but before you make a decision. Let me show you what will happen if you refuse.” Agatha said turning to Ada and Hecate. “Is there anything you would like to say to your colleagues, Ada before I dispose of you both?”
“No matter what happens, don’t let her win.”
Agatha chuckled shaking her head, “Ada when will you realise, I have already won.”
Ada and Hecate saw the potion vial in Agatha’s hand. They tried to move only to find themselves frozen to the spot. “Goodbye dear sister.” Agatha threw the potion vial watching satisfied when it smashed against the stone floor.
Their colleagues could only watch in horror as a purple smoke covered Ada and Hecate blocking them from view. When the fog began to dissipate, there was no sign of the two witches.
“What have you done to them?” Miss Bat asked while grabbing Algie’s hand.
“I’ve disposed of them as promised.” Agatha smirked, “you no longer need to worry about them, but now the three of you have a choice to make and if I were you, I would think long and hard before making your decision.”
Ada and Hecate stumbled feeling a chill pass through them, realising they were now outside.
“Are you alright?” Hecate asked checking Ada over for any sign of injury.
“I’m fine, Hecate. There’s no need to worry about me.”
Hecate nodded and took a step back from Ada suddenly feeling foolish. “I’ll always worry about you, Ada.”
“I know” Ada reassured, while taking Hecate’s hand in her own. “But we need to get back to the school. I dread to think about what Agatha has planned. We need to stop her.”
“And we will.” Hecate promised, but first we need to come up with a plan.”
“You’re right.” Ada agreed finally looking around at their surroundings noticing they appeared to be in a small area of countryside, with what looked like a large house in the distance.
“Where do you think we are?”
“Truthfully, I’m not too sure. The potion Agatha used could have sent us anywhere. It seems we are still in Britain, which is always a good start. There may be someone in that house over there who may be able to help us.”
Ada looked over to where Hecate was staring noticing it wasn’t just a house it appeared to be a full estate, which meant they were no doubt on private land.
“Perhaps, or I could try a transference spell. I would rather not draw much attention to ourselves. If I can transfer us back to the village close to the school…”
Ada nodded, “It’s worth a shot, Hecate. When you’re ready.”
Hecate took a deep breath and waved her hand only to frown when nothing seemed to be happening. She tried not to panic, she was sure there was a reasonable explanation for it. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on her magic and destination, feeling a small spark before it was suddenly gone.
“Hecate?” Ada said with a trace of fear in her voice seeing her Deputy’s face scrunch up as if she were in pain.
Opening her eyes, Hecate could no longer hide her panic. She had no magic. Her powers were gone and she had never felt so empty.
“Talk to me, what’s wrong?”
“My magic. It’s gone, Ada.”
At hearing those words, Ada felt her heart stop. “It can’t be.” She muttered trying a spell of her own only to realise nothing appeared to be happening. “How is that possible?”
“I’m not too sure. It could be a side effect of the potion, but whatever is causing our magic to be blocked hopefully it will eventually wear off so we can go home.
“And what do we do until then?” Ada asked trying not to think of the worst-case scenario.
Hecate sighed and looked over to the house in the distance. “It would appear the house is our next best option.”
Ada nodded, “Very well. It’s appears to be the only option we have for the moment until our magic returns.” ‘If it returns.’ She thought sadly.
Hecate squeezed Ada’s hand offering comfort and reassurance. “We’ll be fine, Ada. I’m sure Miss Drill and the others are looking for a way to bring us home.”
Ada gave a watery smile, “you’re right. We need to keep calm and witch on.” She said trying to remain positive.
“Precisely.” Hecate agreed offering a small smile. While she always cringed at Ada’s enthusiasm and positivity she had never been more thankful for it. “We should go, I would rather we didn’t stand around here a moment longer.”
The two of them walked up the gravel path to the stately house, wondering who lived there or if the occupants would even be at home.
Standing on the porch, Ada knocked on the door, waiting for someone to answer.
“You know I can’t help but feeling there is something strange about this place.” Hecate looked around at their surroundings, causing Ada to frown wondering what was going through her wife’s mind.
A few moments before the door finally opened to reveal a man dressed in a black suit, complimented by a white shirt, waistcoat and bow tie. His hair was neat in a side slicked style his face impassive of emotion.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m hoping you can. You wouldn’t to happen to know where we are?” Ada asked with a gentle smile.
The man looked Hecate and Ada up and down taking in their appearance with a look that seemed to be of disapproval.
“Who is it Carson?”
Hecate looked to see another man approach dressed in a similar style of clothes.
“I’m not sure my lord. They appear to be lost.”
“I see. Forgive me, but you don’t look like you are from around here.”
“We’re not. Well, we are. But where is exactly around here?” Hecate asked the two men trying not to lose her patience.
“You’re in Downton just on the outskirts of Yorkshire.”
Hecate shared a relieved look with Ada, perhaps they wouldn’t need their colleagues help to get back after all.
“We seem to have taken a wrong turn, and are currently stranded. We need to contact our friend to let her know that we are both alright.”
“You’re welcome to come inside to try and contact this friend of yours. Perhaps you’ll be able to explain on how you just so happened to be here.”
Carson moved to the side to let Hecate and Ada enter the house. Upon entering both witches looked around at their surroundings taking in the gothic entrance hall that had sandstone walls and vaulted ceilings. The unsettling feeling Hecate felt earlier seemed to heighten with each step she took inside the house.
“Now perhaps you could shed some light…”
“What year is it?” Hecate interrupted unable to ignore the sensation any longer, while she felt Ada squeeze her hand tightly.
“Year? Its April 13, 1912.”
Ada’s mouth dropped open in shock and disbelief as she looked up at Hecate.
“It’s worse than we feared, Ada.”
“I beg your pardon?” The other man tried to keep his voice level, but Ada could hear the trace of annoyance at Hecate’s comment, but she could also see the truth in the man’s eyes.
Even if they could get back to Cackles, it wouldn’t make much difference. As of now, they were essentially trapped in the past with no magic, and with no way of getting home.