Chapter 1: Chapter 1
“There was a lot more to magic than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.”
~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
During the summer of her tenth year of life, Donnatella Moss discovered she was a witch.
Now, ordinarily in America, witches discovered their abilities at the very tender age of five or six. However, if one was a very strong witch, powers wouldn’t necessarily manifest themselves until well into a young woman’s adolescence. Donna supposed then and there that she wasn’t the ordinary sort of girl, even for a witch.
Witches in America were nothing new. In fact, since the infamous Salem Trials of Massachusetts in 1692, witchcraft had gone through everything from being demonized to being championed. As the law stood in the current day, magic was no longer illegal to practice and furthermore it was illegal to murder a witch on the government’s order. However, witches were still not a protected class in America and hate crimes against the women who had the gift were not prosecuted to the fullest extent.
It was in this environment that Donna came into her own powers. At ten years old, she realized the extent of her magic. There were five types of witches in the world according to the experts that studied magic in mortal society, and Donna soon discovered that her powers were a rarity. She protected herself and her secret quite well for a young child, and it wasn’t until she was sixteen that her family finally discovered the differences within her.
Donna remembers the day her parents discovered her powers very well. All in all, it wasn’t a pleasant memory.
“You’re a witch!” her mother had screamed, “How the hell have we raised a filthy witch in this family!”
“No, mom, you don’t understand!” Donna had screamed back, “I didn’t know! I didn’t know what this was, I didn’t know it was bad!”
Her father hadn’t said a word, but had backhanded her twice, and let his wife continue to scream at her to get out of the house before she brought shame and despair upon the whole family. Her older brother looked at her in absolute disgust. Donna knows every single word her mother screamed at her, every blow her father dealt her, and every look her brother gave her; all given for having the gift of magic.
“Filthy lying witch!”
“Nasty succubus, little slut she is.”
“You get out of this house. Don’t you dare ever come back! We’re lucky you haven’t cursed us to kingdom come! You’ll burn! You’ll burn in hell if you don’t burn on earth first! They’ll catch you and they’ll burn you on that stake they will! They will!”
And so Donna ran for her life. She ran from what was once her home in Madison, Wisconsin in the dead of night on the darkest day of the year. She was cold, tired, hungry, and completely and utterly alone.
Donna left the Moss household in despair, but in that moment, her powers became her greatest treasure in keeping her safe. She knew that some form of education would be important, so she vowed to herself she would at least finish high school. With the help of her friend Stephanie giving her a place to stay, she was able to get her diploma and was accepted to UW-Madison with some hard work and dedication into her studies. Her family never gave away her secret in the city, afraid what having raised and “spawned” a witch would do to their reputation with the neighbors. During her time at Wisconsin, she refused to have any more of a social life than was needed. She kept her own counsel about her powers and didn’t go out beyond study groups, and she certainly never trusted her heart or even her body to anyone in a sexual or romantic sense. She was seen as a little recluse on campus, but it worked for her.
She should have known it would all come crashing down on her one day.
During the end of her finals her sophomore year, her roommate’s boyfriend caught her packing with magic. Unfortunately, he was the son of the president of Wisconsin’s “Army Against the Darkness” branch. AAD was well known to witches around the nation as the premier hate group and burning organization. Her roommate screamed, her roommate’s boyfriend went to go get his torch, and Donna Moss disappeared with her things in a snap of her fingers, never to be seen on campus again.
Picking up the pieces the second time she saved herself was not so easy. She had snapped herself and everything she owned to the middle of the forest in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. It was only due to some handy navigational magic that she knew where she was at all. Donna was determined to learn the extent of her powers then and there, and at twenty-one, she certainly hadn’t had the capacity of experience that older and wiser witches had. So she built herself a place to stay with her magic and created a comfortable home with food, practical magic academia, and of course, the internet. A decent amount of kitchen witches tended to live in the woods, so Donna often got help from her “neighbors” who could sense her and would stop by. Donna wasn’t too sure how that worked, but kitchen witches were quirky like that. She was just happy she got the internet service to work for her research.
And did Donna ever love to research. She found out that there were exactly five types of witches in the world, and all of them existed in the United States. Donna had definitely known the folklore behind all five types of magic-practicers, but she had never known the validity of any of those stories or books she read them in until the fruition of her own powers came to light. Here in her little study cove, she learned more about the five types of sisters she had.
She learned that the kitchen witches she had received so much help from in the Wisconsin woods were handy in any situation involving your food, your household, and even your family aura, and although they weren’t known to be the most powerful of witches they were most certainly not to be underestimated. They had a reputation for being quite quirky and loveable, but could be fiercely protective of the things they held dear. Donna was also amused that they had quite the affinity for fireplaces and hanging garden plants.
She also learned that healing witches, while they could choose any profession they wished of course, tended to heavily make up the female population of the medical field. Nurses, doctors, physician assistants, you name it: healing witches were all there. They gave strength to their patients both physically and mentally, and were well known for being the most trustworthy and good-hearted of all the types of women that had the gift. Donna knew that she was decent at healing magic, but it most certainly wasn’t her forte. She would have to research a bit more to figure out exactly what her powers contained.
Although she could control the natural world around her to some extent, Donna most certainly wasn’t an elemental witch either. These women could call down any weather they pleased, manipulate plants and animals, and even call upon the four natural elements of earth, air, water, and fire to do their bidding. These witches could be volatile, but could execute their power incredibly responsibly as well. Most elemental witches did what they could to help contain natural disasters and used their command of Mother Earth to the benefit of their more mortal neighbors and friends. Donna knew that this power could not be taken lightly, but it definitely wasn’t all she was either.
Empath witches were a little bit more tricky to research. They had the ability to read emotions and minds, and could really only be identified by word of mouth or polygraph, if one was so inclined to investigate her. Donna was almost certain she’d met several empath witches in her lifetime, including her high school English teacher Mrs. Morello. The woman just knew when Donna was having problems at home or with her new situation at Stephanie’s. She figured out she was depressed, lonely, and had been kicked out by her parents when none of the other teachers even noticed a change in her behavior. Of course, while this made her a brilliant teacher, Donna was always sure that the ethics in Mrs. Morello’s class were absolutely impeccable…since she could tell what her students were thinking and all. Empath witches must know pretty quickly about their powers, Donna thought. At least she thought she’d know if she could read the thoughts and feelings of everyone around her. It’s not that Donna didn’t know the aura of the people she was generally close with, but she definitely didn’t have an empath’s power in her skillset.
At the culmination of her research in her little cove, Donna could only conclude that she was a witch most typically classified as “all-around power”, the “jack-of-all-trades” power, so to speak. They had the ability to summon combat magic as well as extensive protective magic. Furthermore, they had the ability to weave their own way through their lives through magic, regardless of what the task was. Women with this set of powers generally didn’t make themselves well-known, and if they did, they were pretty influential. Donna believed her type of magic to be a rarity, but with the whole thing hush-hush, she didn’t know how true that was. For the first time in her research about her fellow magic sisters, she felt very alone. These powerful witches often skewed toward the darker side of the magical spectrum, drunk on the enormous amount of power they contained in their souls. Of course, there were many good witches with the all-around power dynamic, but Donna despaired at the amount of responsibility this instilled in her as a wielder of this power. Finally worn out on all the research she’d been doing for the past two weeks, she shut down her computer and prepared her little cove for slumber.
Over the next two years, Donna would put her isolation to good use. She practiced the full extent of her magical ability, quickly learning spells, potions, charms, protections, and even curses in order to surround herself with the power she would need to make it alone in the world. Not only did she want to protect herself with her powers, she knew she wanted to do something in the world that would allow her to use her powers to positively help others.
She scanned her television and the newspapers that the kitchen witch neighbors would drop off in order to find an opportunity to both find work and make that difference. Donna was absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of things she could do with her newly-confident abilities. She had been keeping up with current events in her solitude, and realized that witches’ rights were becoming more and more bleak in the sociopolitical world, and she just knew that she had to do something. She had seen footage of too many witch burnings (and potentially escaped two burnings of her own) to stand in the shadows anymore. Now that she felt so much more confidence in her powers, she was ready to fight for witches’ right to exist in harmony with their families, friends, and other fellow Americans.
Her train of thought was interrupted by a speech coming out of New Hampshire in the news. Oh yes, Donna thought, this might work. The primary season of the presidential election of 1998 was in full swing, and if she was going to find a candidate to vote for that was solidly pro-witch among other things, she’d need to find a better Democratic candidate than John Hoynes. The man on the screen, the esteemed governor of New Hampshire might just be the one she pulled for. His wife was one of the most respected healing witches in the country, and their daughter was as well. She not only knew this man was pro-witch, but also believed in the country enough to create legitimate social change. Plus, he was an economist. That could certainly help after where Lassiter left the country. By the end of the speech, Donna reconfirmed the thoughts she’d had for months: Jed Bartlet was right for the job. But how on earth was he going to get elected? Donna thought, and thought, and thought some more. Finally, gathering her courage, she knew exactly what she had to do.
Leaving her lovely cove home of two years behind, she packed the car that the kitchen witches of woodland Door County had made for her. She would miss her life here very much, but she knew that she (and her powers) were being drawn toward bigger and better things. Her last thought before climbing inside and disappearing with a snap of her fingers was: yes, I think New Hampshire will do just fine.
Thank you all to the wonderful responses to the first chapter! I'm so excited to be posting this fic, even if it is a little slow going. Hope you enjoy the next installment of this witchy wonderland, and Happy New Year!
“’Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to the world.”
~William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”
“Oh shit! Oh no, that’s not good!”
In all honesty, Donna was not having the best day. She was attempting to brew a potion on Margaret’s recommendation, but it really wasn’t working all that well for her. To be fair, she had asked Margaret a week ago on how to brew her own liquid luck, but she had stood firm in her belief that whipping up luck just wasn’t in a kitchen witch’s repertoire. Donna honestly thought she wouldn’t do any better with an empath giving her the instructions, since Margaret was the best brewer she knew. But honestly, was it too much to ask for to give her boss a little something extra for the absolute shit day he (and by proxy she) was going to have?
She didn’t see anything wrong with what he did. It was Mary Marsh. Anybody who put that woman in her place was an angel to her.
“Donna, what are you doing?”
“Oh shit, sorry CJ! It’s absolutely boiling over and its all going to hell in a handbasket anyway. You know, you try and try to brew something right, in the office, and everything just has to go wrong, doesn’t it?”
CJ snorted. “You know, with all the potions that both you and Margaret try to make around here to fix the stuff the guys screw up, it’s a wonder we’ve never set fire to the Operations bullpen, much less the rest of the West Wing.”
Donna rolled her eyes. “I am trying to make liquid luck. Margaret said I could do it over magic fire with an incendiary spell! And that was NOT the right advice to take, good gracious. I’m certainly not setting the White House on fire if I can help it.”
“Oh good, because there’s certainly people you could do that for that would be worth more than Joshua Lyman.”
“CJ come on!”
“I’m kidding, Donna darling!”
“I really am kidding. The next commendable man you could brew liquid luck for is probably the President himself, but then we’d probably have a Constitutional crisis on our hands.”
“Don’t you have a press briefing?”
“Yeah, I do, just wanted to make sure I didn’t have to tell the entire White House Press Corps that someone set the building on fire, much less with magic!”
“Donna, I know.”
“CJ, you gotta go, you’re late,” Carol yelled.
“Goodbye, Donna! And tell Josh if you see him that if he doesn’t get fired we’re gonna throw him a party for telling off a woman spewing absolute garbage about witches, okay?”
“Just looking out for you and your lovely magic friends my dear! Bye Donna!”
“Bye,” she whispered back, most assuredly going unheard. CJ’s visit to her little cauldron cubicle nightmare was short-lived, and if it had happened under any other circumstance, she would’ve laughed. At least her sentiments were appreciated. CJ may not have been a witch herself, but she was certainly a good ally.
Donna sighed. This potion wasn’t going to work. She had already overheated it and had to douse the flame with water from her fingertips in order to truly ensure that Operations didn’t go up in flames. She supposed it would be ironic if she ended up accidentally killing herself via fire instead of letting Army Against the Darkness and their ilk catch her. She was upset, however, that even under Margaret’s urging, she was still going to fail at this potion. And she had tried so hard too.
She had just wanted to do something kind for Josh. Sure, she helped him with her magic every day. But today was special. He’d really stuck his neck out for her. Well, she supposed it wasn’t specifically her more as it was all witches. But obviously it always meant a lot to her when somebody defended her and her kind to bigots who provoked and perpetuated hate crimes. She was disgusted that people like Mary Marsh got to even speak. She was one of the leaders of Army Against the Darkness, led their “above the table” policies and turned a blind eye to their dubious practices. Of course, this meant that she channeled the funding she got from the Christian Right into money used to go on hunts to torch witches and appeared on TV in order to endorse witch burning as a form of free speech and religion.
Donna hated her.
And Josh had pissed her off.
Thank the Mother for that.
She knew it would only be a matter of time until she was needed again, so with a flick of her wrist (and a scoff of disgust) she vanished her poor sad attempt at Margaret’s luck potion.
She could get him coffee. She never got him coffee. Yeah, that would work.
“Oh, hey Donna. Wait, what’s this?”
“It’s coffee, Josh.”
“What do you mean it’s coffee?”
“Coffee, you know, the beverage one drinks when one has not slept for several hours. Usually tailored toward people like you.”
“C’mon Josh, you’re smarter than that!”
“Donnatella Moss, how long have you known me?”
“A year and a half.”
“And how long have you been working for me?”
“Since the campaign.”
“And in that time, have you ever brought me coffee?”
Donna sighed. “I just wanted to cheer you up, Josh.”
“Donna, if they fire me, they fire me. Your job will be safe, I promise. Goodness knows we need you in this building, especially with the powers you have. Not—not that there’s anything wrong with the normal work you do! I mean—you know what I mean!” Josh tried and failed to get his point across. Donna just stared at him and laughed as he flustered through the compliment. She decided to give him a break.
“Josh, you won that campaign for him. You and Leo and Sam and Toby and CJ. They can’t fire you. They can’t. Plus, you were defending witches’ rights! You were fighting discrimination! Maybe they’re stronger words than the ACLU would have used, but still!
She saw, rather than heard, Josh sigh.
“Donna. It doesn’t matter. I flew off the handle. You have to go for the smart arguments, even if the person opposite of you is wrong in every way.”
“Even if that person is perpetuating hate speech?”
“Especially then, Donna. Because then you can show the irrationality of the speech by your own rational thinking. It sucks taking the high road, doesn’t it?” he asked with his tongue stuck out.
“Ha, very funny. I just wanted to cheer you up,” Donna smiled.
“Thank you, Donna. I just don’t want these kinds of people around you or Margaret, let alone the rest of the female witch staff in the building. Mary Marsh shouldn’t be able to even breathe the same air as you.”
“That’s sweet, Joshua, but I promise we can more than handle the likes of Mary Marsh.” Donna didn’t want to express her fears that the woman’s fringe hate group was becoming more violent every day.
“Well, just know we’re trying to get you guys as a protected class. You gotta know that.”
“I know, and I appreciate you all the more for it.”
Josh looked uncomfortable with the praise. “Ah-kay, then. Back to work, then?”
“Alright then,” Donna smiled and nodded her head to Josh, making to leave his office.
“Oh wait, Donna!” Josh called.
She stuck her head back in.
“Don’t think I don’t know that you were brewing at your desk again! What was it this time, weight loss potion?” he smirked.
“If you must know, Joshua, it was liquid luck. Intended for you, but you so obviously don’t need it. It was a bust anyway. Never send a kitchen witch to do an empath’s job apparently!” Donna huffed, still miffed at Margaret’s wayward instructions.
Josh looked shocked at the prospect that she’d brew that complicated of a potion just to protect him. “You’d- you’d do that for me? I mean, for this office?” he covered for his slip.
“Oh, don’t look so surprised. We both know you’d be useless without me. Besides, I rather like to reward my poor mortal followers,” Donna teased.
“Yeah, yeah. I guess we’re just lucky the bullpen didn’t catch on fire?”
“Um, yeah,” she cringed.
“So…never tell Leo that happened right?” Josh clarified.
“Please don’t,” Donna begged.
Josh laughed outright at that. “Alright, I guess since you asked nicely. And, ya know, I kind of what your magic and sparkling personality to stick around.”
Donna giggled. She knew he was laying it on thick, but she knew he was just trying to cover his embarrassment over the fact that she would try to save his job with magic. Well, time to get back to work she supposed.
“You have Staff in 15,” she reminded him.
Somehow, she knew it wasn’t just a thank you for his schedule reminder.
She always knew Josh respected witches. She was just glad she had a boss that cared enough to have the entire executive branch of government do something about their rights.
Donna couldn’t have asked for a better friend.