The bird that Misty found in the field that day wasn’t the only thing that she had brought back to life. Well, as of that day it had been. But…that wasn’t all there was to the story.
The young witch had been watching the school for months prior to her formal arrival at Miss Robichaux’s. Although still very innocent and largely unaware of the ways of the world, she’d become far more cautious after having been burnt at the stake. Being killed by the community that raised you will tend to have that effect on a girl. She wasn’t exactly sure about what the school was, exactly, and certainly hadn’t been aware at first that it was a school for witches. It wasn’t even until Kyle was reanimated that she even truly recognized that there were witches who lived there (although that had certainly informed her enthusiasm when she met Zoe.
The first time, Misty happened upon the school somewhat by accident. She’d been following her gut, as she usually did. Living beings has certain energy signature, and dead things (and resurrected things) had a similar signature. It was how she found the gators, and part of how she later found Kyle…
It was also how she found the baby. She was small- too small- never born, as a matter of fact. More of a fetus, really, than anything. It didn’t seem fair that she hadn’t been given a chance at life. This was different, Misty knew, than bringing the bird or the gators back to life. Rhiannon, perhaps, wasn’t meant to live. Misty had no reason to believe that anything had been done to the child to cause her death, perhaps it was just an act of nature. But something about the small, alien-like creature called to her- and Misty answered, just as she always did.
The child had been buried out behind the greenhouse, a secret spot that Cordelia had carefully selected. As a matter of fact, Misty had been called and arrived just in time to see Cordelia bury her.
It was nearly midnight, and the part of the yard that Cordelia occupied was illuminated faintly by a couple of candles, in addition to the back-porch lights which were always left on for straggling students (although technically the girls were not to leave during the night). The older woman was sobbing, but silently. Her shoulders shook at the effort it took to contain her distress, and once or twice a strangled noise escaped. She covered her mouth with her hands, letting herself fall to the ground, simple black circle skirt fanning out around her as she descended. The moonlight caught the tear tracks leading down her face. She was gorgeous, albeit in a tragic sort of way. Misty wasn’t sure that she’d ever sensed distress of this magnitude- and certainly never this particular flavor.
It was almost as though Misty could taste Cordelia’s tears, feel the sobs and gasps burning at her lungs. Misty moved closer to the woman, although still shrouded in darkness and shadow. For good measure, though, she hid behind a tree. Eventually Cordelia fell asleep there, which posed a problem for Misty, who had been waiting for the woman to depart so that she might investigate the creature who had called out to her. Fortunately, Hank came out shortly thereafter to retrieve his wife, carrying her back into the house.
Misty edged towards the fresh pile of dirt, brushing it gently to the side. What she found was a small cloth sack, black, almost like a cross between a funeral shroud and Scrabble tile bag. Misty opened the sack and peered inside. She could barely make out the faint shape of something that looked almost human, but impossibly small and covered in blood. Misty reached a hand inside of the sack, concentrating on breathing the life back into the tiny creature. Misty then tucked the sack very gently into her bag, uncertain if her efforts had done anything.
“Don’t worry, darlin’. I’ll do whatever I can to get you right as rain. I can feel ya callin’ to me, so I know yer still in there. Just gotta hang in there and have a little patience, lil’ bean.”
When Misty returned to her shack, she pulled around a planter that currently housed a small herb garden. She gently uprooted her plants, to be relocated later, and filled the planter with mud, placing the tiny being in the center.
“I sure hope ya ain’t gonna take as long to grow here as you would’ve inside yer mama. But it’s all right with me if ya do. I’m just dyin’ ta meet ya, little one.”
In the immediate aftermath of her loss, Cordelia was beside herself with grief. It was a familiar grief that she knew all too well, but it also felt new and entirely different. The loss of a child, or possibility of a child, whatever the correct terminology was, was entirely too much for Cordelia as a general principle- but having the tangible reality of what she conceived of as failure was beyond anything she could have imagined. The entire fertility process seemed unfair and almost as though it were designed to punish her- for, well, for what? She wasn’t entirely sure. For failing to be adequately grown, perhaps? Her lack of assertiveness? All Delia knew was that it was entirely unfair she had been thrust upon Fiona, who hadn’t wanted her- and Delia herself, despite her deeply maternal nature, was being denied to opportunity to create a child from her own body. She wasn’t sure who was denying her this opportunity, but it sure didn’t feel like an accident.
To make matters worse, being pregnant and being a mother were the only two things that Cordelia had ever dreamt about, the only things that she had wanted out of life. It was true that she romanticized the experience a bit too much, and that, perhaps, these goals seemed a bit old fashioned, but she hadn’t wanted to do these things out of any sort of obligation to tradition or some conception of propriety. No, she’d always conceived of it more in terms of an animalistic instinct.
Delia pulled a well-worn hardcovered copy of The Loving Spirit down from the bookcase in her office. The novel was her happy place, her solace. She wasn’t sure why, given her own familial circumstances, she was drawn so deeply into this intergenerational narrative, but it was a world that she could not get enough of. Not only that, but the vivid description of Janet giving birth to her child out in nature, her wildness, on all fours- something about this spoke to the primal urge within Delia that she could not shake not matter how hard she tried.
Hank hated when Cordelia read. He always said it put her into a weird mood. She suspected it had something to do with the fact that it meant she wasn’t paying attention to him, but she also had a sinking feeling that he didn’t much care for her mind. He certainly hated it anytime she brought up her feelings or desires, although that seemed strange because he at least seemed to be invested in having a child with her. Anyway, this was why she preferred to keep her treasured tomes in her office as opposed to the bedroom. He did not like being in that room, nor did she like him being there, so it had turned into one of her more treasured havens in the house- the other, of course, being the greenhouse. She’d have to process her grief and loss a bit more before heading back out there, however. She of course missed her plants, and they would suffer, but she needed space from all of her many failed attempts at fertility, and this was the only way.
When Misty was called back into the city, to the morgue, she wanted nothing less than to be there. The baby had started to develop its own vibration, its own life force, and she wanted nothing more than to be constantly surrounded by its presence. Babies were simple, and certainly less terrifying than the general population. A baby couldn’t burn her at the stake. When she discovered she’d picked up on Franken-boy, she was none too pleased, neither did she particularly care to deal with the witches who had done the deed. Although, only the other hand, a very deep-seated part of her soul longed for camaraderie and there was a chance that these girls could be a part of her tribe. She’d never spent a substantial amount of time with other witches, so this opportunity was in some ways more exciting than she could stand.
Taking care of Kyle back at the shack proved to be more difficult than she had bargained for. Particularly since when he was awake and active, his motor skills and anger management were lacking. Which, of course, would have been fine, if it weren’t for the fact that she was growing a baby as well. Rhiannon seemed to be growing more rapidly than anticipated, judging by the size of the lump in the mud. This pleased Misty to no end, but it made hospitality awfully difficult at times. As much as she valued having the company, and as gentle as Kyle often was, there were moments of pure terror when he got frustrated or off-balance that her protective instincts for the tiny human got the better of her. Misty had never particularly thought of herself as a maternal figure, in fact, she’d never really considered the subject before. But Misty’s bond with this child- whoever she was- was something stronger than anything she’d felt in a long time, perhaps stronger than any bond she’d ever felt. She couldn’t quite explain it, but this tiny not-yet-fully-alive human felt like a part of her tribe. She could feel it in the same part of her being that her magic flowed from, somewhere deep down in her chest, her very essence.
As the months dragged on, Cordelia had a difficult time focusing on her work, which was not surprising considering all that had happened, she supposed. She’d always been good at compartmentalizing her feelings and distracting herself through her work. Well, at least since Fiona had abandoned her at the Academy. It was weird though- Cordelia expected to feel something more akin to grief after her miscarriage. It wasn’t her first, not nearly, so perhaps she was beginning to get used to it. Still…something was different this time. Perhaps it was nothing more than the fact that she was also learning to cope with her blindness and the trauma of the acid attack itself, in addition to trying to take care of her girls. Her mother’s reappearance and constant interference with her plans for the school were probably not helping matters any.
Instead of the grief she knew and expected, she began to feel…well, she couldn’t quite describe it. It was almost as though she had made a mistake, as though…the miscarriage wasn’t real. And yet, she wasn’t in denial- she had, after all, physically been through the hell of losing a much-wanted child. She had buried her never-born baby in the backyard herself.
It had been a number of months since the miscarriage, she was still often tempted to go back out to the mound of dirt and dig up the fetus. Although everything with the coven had been hectic in the months since the miscarriage, and she’d been running around putting out literal and figurative fires so much that she barely had a chance to breathe, let alone thing, there were still moments like this. Moments of relative calm and stillness between the madness where she had nothing else to deal with and the grief seeped back in. It wasn’t out of any sort of morbid curiosity- and mostly she didn’t actually follow through with digging up the grave because the sight of a decomposing fetus would likely scar her for life- but she felt she needed to be convinced that it had happened. Of course, she’d only even be able to “see” the corpse if her second sight decided to cooperate…and the possibility of feeling a decomposing fetus was more horrifying than almost anything else she could imagine. Nonetheless, she felt a desire- almost a need, to be sure that her child was dead. She knew it sounded crazy- she never would have admitted this feeling to anyone.
Since the attack, Delia had spent most of her time on her own, trapped in her own mind. There wasn’t anyone around that she felt comfortable relying on fully- not after learning what she had about Hank and her mother, and she would never burden the girls with her troubles. They had enough going on as it was, and she was doing a poor enough job of educating them and keeping them safe. If she revealed any more struggle to them than necessary, it would only undercut her authority and their confidence in her abilities further.
Learning to do things for herself through touch had been a slow-going and risky process. Touching anything held the risk of being affronted by a vision- and most often one of something that she did not particularly care to know. She didn’t resent her gift, but it was certainly draining, and Cordelia could only muster so much energy to get through her tasks any given day. She needed to be sure to allot the correct amount of energy to each priority task while leaving enough in reserves to be able to deal with the extra time it took to do simple tasks without her eyes as well as any manner of ridiculous unforeseen situation may arise. Touching more objects (or people for that matter) than necessary raised the risk that she’d deplete her energy stores too soon, leaving her girls and/or herself vulnerable. As it was, Fiona was taking on a much larger role in their protection and education than Cordelia was comfortable with, but Fiona was the Supreme after all, so there wasn’t much to be done about that.
Meanwhile, at the swamp, Misty was watering her plants when she caught a glimpse of something stirring. She turned her attention to the pot of mud that she’d gently tucked the baby into and tended to. Misty knew that the mud had incredible healing properties, and she gathered that it accelerated the process, but clearly she had no experience with using it as a replacement womb. The baby was now fully developed, enveloped only in a thin layer of mud as she seemed to have wiggled her way out. As Misty neared, she heard the child gurgling and rushed to clear out her airway. Misty lifted the child to her chest, not caring as the mud seeped through the layers of her airy white cotton dress. The baby girl cried as Misty gently wiped her face clean. Misty sang to her as she had often over the past couple months, always seeming to return to Rhiannon. She set the child down on a towel in the sink to begin sponge bathing her and examined her face carefully.
“I wonder if you’re gonna get to lookin’ like your mama, lil’ one. I didn’t get ta see her all up close like, but from what I could see, she sure was stunning. I think I will keep calling ya Rhiannon. Seems to suit you.”
The baby cooed, and Misty grinned.
“Well then, it’s decided.”