Chapter 1: Chapter One
As she’s standing in the kitchen listening to Hilda and Sabrina seethe with fury over the indignities she has been subjected to, all the while casting her concerned looks as she refuses to divulge exactly what said indignities were, all she can think about is getting back to him. She could blame it on the lingering remnants of the Caligari spell, or her eagerness to take what little action she can to overthrow her husband and his pathetic little regime, but really she knows. It’s the same itch she’s been scratching for years, the same dance they’ve been doing long enough for her to do the steps in her sleep. And Faustus is the only partner that has ever come close to matching her skill.
The broken spell feels like a long exhalation after weeks of holding her breath. Her mind is clear at long last, her vision unblurred. But once that initial rush of relief has passed through her, she feels hollow and uncertain, everything around her familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Hilda presses a glass of scotch into her hand, Sabrina lights her cigarette and for a moment all she does is hold both uncertainly, trying to remember what to do. The harsh smoke hitting the back of her throat helps, as does the burning tingle of alcohol on her tongue. It feels as though she’s getting into character somehow - this is how Zelda Spellman acts, this is how Zelda Spellman talks. It feels strange, her voice forming clipped vowels and crisp consonants again. How bittersweet that it had been her perfect diction, which Faustus had praised more than once with an innuendo-laden smirk, that was the first thing he chose to soften.
She thinks it’s the memory that makes her choke, that sears her throat and makes her splutter and cough, until she feels the acrid sting of single malt on her lips and realised that she had take a gulp of scotch and entirely forgotten to swallow. She isn’t in the mood to reflect on the irony of that as she tries to coax her body into its half-forgotten patterns, taking a deep drag from the cigarette and blowing it insolently into Hilda’s face, feeling more like an automaton now than she ever did under the spell.
Faustus is an idiot, and the Caligari spell is his proof. He’d never needed an enchantment to make her weak for him, to make her crave his instruction. Even when they argued, part of her always needed him to win, to put her in her place. And that place was always beneath him, or on top of him, or in front of him bent over his desk with her skirt pulled up. She’d escaped into the fantasy of his perfect little slut long before he’d given her that damned music box, and this is hardly the most humiliating outfit he’s coaxed her into.
This has always been where Zelda has been happiest, at the kitchen table with her family safe around her, but now it feels strange and harsh, as though all her senses have been heightened until it’s almost painful. She thinks about Ambrose, the way his whole body had lit up with joy at the first step he took outside the bonds of his confinement, the way his face had frozen when he realised just how much world there was, suddenly at his disposal. She wonders if part of him felt relieved to be imprisoned again, his universe contained and manageable once more.
When she announces her intention to return to the Academy, Sabrina looks confused. Too young to understand that sometimes sacrifices have to be made and that for once, Zelda is not the key player in this drama. She’s just a pawn in a pretty dress. Hilda glances at her and she feels the gentle nudge of her sister’s thoughts against her own, making sure this is what she wants. Zelda has sent her to the Cain Pit for less, but she’s grateful for the concern and for the chance to state her own wishes for once. It occurs to her and not for the first time that Hilda’s mortal-incubus hybrid, her wolf in sheep’s clothing if sheep wore hideous polyester capes, will be in very safe hands when the time comes to break out the Damascus steel chains.
But Hilda doesn’t push and Zelda is grateful for it, not ready to admit to the craving that tugs her to her feet like a marionette’s string and gather her things to resume her role. She smokes because, despite Sabrina’s protestations to contrary, she knows perfectly well it looks what her niece would otherwise refer to as ‘cool’. She’s never needed it out of anything other than habit, but she thinks this might be what addiction feels like, this ache under her skin that can only be soothed by one thing.
‘Sleepwalking’ is a good name for what he had her do, and every bone in her body is screaming to sink back into that lovely cotton candy dream. To be his plaything, to be the pretty doll he poses in increasingly obscene positions. To turn off her whirring mind and stop thinking, just for a little while.
Zelda Spellman, enchantment or no, is a self aware woman. She knows her panties (petal pink lace, not something she would ever have chosen herself and she wonders if Faustus had sent one of his proto-fascist minions out to purchase them, if his precious Judas Boys know what their Anti Pope's wife has on under her dresses) are wet at the prospect of returning to her submissive state, that she volunteered out of more than a sense of practicality and a desire to play the double agent. Sabrina and Hilda will sigh over their tea and biscuits, imagining the worst of perversions but reassuring themselves that their redoubtable matriarch will be strong enough to endure them, never thinking it might be something Zelda could enjoy even while she hates herself for it.
As she lets the door of the Spellman Mortuary bang shut behind her, she raises her perfumed wrist to her face and inhales the scent of tea roses, letting them fill her lungs with their light fragrance, feminine and delicate.
Lady Blackwood steps daintily down the porch steps, lipsticked smile on her face, ready to return to her husband.
Lady Blackwood doesn’t care. Lady Blackwood just wants everything to be as serene and nice as she is.
Lady Blackwood, Zelda thinks as she fluffs her hair and smiles sweetly at a passing student, has the right fucking idea.
As she pushes open the Academy door, she feels the old familiar dread and anxiety flood in, coupled with apprehension about how they’re going to pull any of this off. How she’s failing everyone, Sabrina especially.
She tells herself sternly that it’s nothing more than the usual emotional crash she gets after she leaves Faustus’ control, even before the spell. When the real world rushes in before she can resurrect her defences, when the euphoria of being his perfect good girl, his exquisite slut, his tailormade whore fades and the only thing left behind is ordinary Zelda Spellman, too sharp to be loveable, not maternal enough to be the mother Sabrina needs, not devout enough for the Dark Lord, not good enough not good enough not good enough.
She’s starting to pick at her cuticles. She hasn’t done that in years, glamours it away and hopes Faustus doesn’t notice. He’d always hated how needy she got after a particularly intense bout of submission, she doubts he’d have any patience with her now even if it didn’t give away her unenchanted state.
Anyway, she thinks, looking at the remnants of that ghastly mouse. She did what he asked. She was a good girl. He’ll be pleased.
She hums the tune from the music box under her breath, tries to recall how she felt the first time she heard it. With every note, things somehow felt easier. Hilda’s pity, Sabrina’s disdain, Ambrose’s plight...
She’d like to believe that at least the latter was Faustus’ doing, but she remembers the way she had stood by while her nephew was carted off, remembers the white hot rage that once again her family had ruined one of the few things that was truly hers.
Lady Blackwood doesn’t care. Lady Blackwood just wants everything to be as serene and nice as she is. Lady Blackwood, Zelda thinks as she fluffs her hair and smiles sweetly at a passing student, has the right fucking idea.
Oh, she knows what a Caligari Spell does, knows how it can be tailored. It can turn even the most obstinate witches pliant and obedient, the kind of spell that has produced an entire generation of biddable women and generations more who looked at them as the witches they themselves were supposed to be.
The kind of spell that can ease a teenage witch’s path to her Dark Baptism, half mortal or no.
Zelda never built one, never did more than daydream restlessly and only then when she was far away from Hilda and her overdeveloped sense of empathy. That, she figures, makes her a marginally better person than her husband an d a considerably worse one than her sister. That same muddy grey space she’s been occupying for centuries. It's true what they say about karma, she thinks as she catches sight of her reflection in the glass of a portrait of some long-dead warlock. She really is a bitch.
She pushes her doubts down, deep down in the morass of all the other feelings she prefers not to think about, and knocks on his door with a smile so bright she feels it start to melt the icy dread in her stomach.
He’s immersed in his papers, writing that ghastly manifesto that puts witches on the same level as familiars practically, and it takes a moment before he glances up. He’s played this game with her before, of course, extending his attention only to snatch it away and make her beg for it, reminding her that he is in charge and even her submission comes only at his acquiesence.
He isn’t playing now. And that, she thinks, is the biggest betrayal of all - to discover that their power struggles, their to and fro-ing of dominance and submission, has come to this. Still under his spell in all the ways that matter,
“I did what you asked, husband.”
His face lights up, the most real smile she’s seen in weeks.
“Good girl. I’m so proud of you, little wife of mine.”
If she hadn’t swept away the shards of glass from her portrait frame herself, she’d wonder if he had recast the spell. She feels his words seep into her like smoke in her lungs
She sinks into his embrace and lets the stroke of his hand on her hair soothe her cares away, just as they always do.
“How shall I reward you, my dear?” he asks once he’s disposed of poor mangled Leviathan. She hopes Hilda will remember to clean the meat grinder, although vegetarianism is suddenly looking more appealing.
She knows her lines. “Whatever you think, husband.”
His grip on her waist tightens.
“No,” he says, chastising her gently with a quiet note of real threat just beneath. “I asked you a question, Zelda. Answer it.”
She lets her eyes go glassy, her limbs slack. It feels blissful.
“Fuck me,” she breathes excitedly. “Reward me with your big, hard cock your Unholy Eminance. Please - I’ve been such a good girl for you.”
He groans, face buried in her hair.
“Tell me,” he demands.
“I cleaned the kitchen table.” The words fall out of her mouth and they sound stupid, so stupid, but he laps them up like Salem eats cream. “With some fresh lime to hide the smell. They won’t know what happened, they’ll think he ran away.”
She feels his chest shake and a spark of real fear strikes her. Is she unconvincing? Did she make a mistake? But no - he’s laughing.
“Zelda Spellman doing housework. Now there’s a sight I’d like to see. The old Zelda wouldn’t have done that, would she? Wouldn’t have been a good girl and cleaned up after herself. She only ever used lime in her drinks. She was sluttish, in both senses of the word.”
Oh, this is good. It shouldn’t be, but she’s throbbing at the insinuation.
“She was a dirty girl,” she sighs as his lips find that spot under her ear.
“Tell me,” he demands, grinding his hardness against her hip.
“She got her pretty dress all covered in mud and grass stains at Lupercalia,” she says in a dreamy voice that’s only partly put on. “She left your office with a nasty sticky mess in her panties. She got on her knees on the floor of the dungeons, smudged her lipstick and tore her stockings. And she liked it.”
“But not you,” he groans against her skin. “My good girl. My sweet, pure girl who made herself all nice and tight for me on our wedding night. Isn’t it nicer that way, darling? When I’m the only one who’s ever been in that virgin cunt of yours?”
That was both an infuriating and amusing little quirk to discover - as though hadn’t been her first anyway, as though he hasn’t delighted over the years in how many lovers she’s had because she always comes back to him.
But it seems that Faustus Blackwood, legendary hedonist, is prosaic enough to like fucking a re-virginised version of his insatiable lover, one who squeals and tells him how big he is when he enters her, and half-protests in a voice trembling with guilty pleasure when his fingers and tongue trace her other hole.
He’s pushing up her skirt, fumbling to yank down her panties and she wonders if he realises what a hypocrite he is, in this as in everything else.
He likes it when he can make her dirty, she thinks as he pushes into her with a groan. It’s been so long since she was really clean.