Actions

Work Header

I'll fix you with my love

Work Text:

“Miss Cordelia?”

Misty stood in the doorway of Cordelia’s office, leaning against the frame. It was late at night. The sun had long set, casting the entire room in complete darkness, with the exception of the soft light provided by the moon, the lamp on her bureau, and the orange glow from the fireplace.

  A smile lit up Cordelia’s features once she caught notice of her visitor. “Misty! Come in, is everything okay?”

Misty hesitated for a second before walking in and settling down in one of the chairs opposite to Cordelia. She looked down, fidgeting with the hem of her skirt. “Yeah I’m alright… I just wanted to talk about tomorrow.” Cordelia raised an eyebrow in surprise but didn’t comment on it and motioned for Misty to continue. “I— uhm...” She paused for a few seconds and Cordelia reached out her hand.

  “Go on, it’s okay, you can tell me anything. You know that, right?”

  Misty nodded slowly, seizing Cordelia’s hand with both of her own. “I know, I know...” she added hastily as she remembered Cordelia couldn’t see her non-verbal response. A soft sigh blew from her lips. “Miss Cordelia— I don’t think I can do it. The test, I mean. I am not ready, it ain’t gonna be me anyway and I don’t even want it to be me. I— I’m just not ready.”

“Oh sweetie...” Cordelia breathed, resting her other hand atop their joined ones. “It’s probably just the nerves. Misty— You are one of the most powerful witches I know. It seems scary, I know that. But I believe in you, and I am certain that, if it is indeed you, you’ll make a wonderful Supreme. You’re kind, caring, loyal... You’re not afraid to step up and fight when you have to. You’d fit the role perfectly.”

  Misty’s cheeks tinted a bright red at Cordelia’s kind words. “By that definition so would you, Miss Cordelia.”

  With a wry smile, Cordelia shook her head. “I’m nothing special.”

  “I beg to differ, I think you’re amazing.”

  “I’m really not—”

“Christ, Delia, would you please just take the compliment,” Misty laughed.

  A modest smile tugged on her lips and she gave Misty’s hand a gentle squeeze in response. “You have nothing to be afraid of, trust me. I believe in you. I know you can do it. Don’t let your self doubts get in the way of your potential.”

  Misty bit her lip. You’re one to talk, Delia... She still wasn’t really convinced, but the last thing she wanted to do was disappoint Cordelia, the only person that had ever believed in her.

  “Will you do it, then?”

  “Yeah... Yeah alright, I will.”

  “Good.” Cordelia smiled softly. She patted Misty’s hands, holding onto them for perhaps a little longer than she had to. “Now, go get some sleep. You’ll need it, you’ve got a long day ahead of you tomorrow.”

  Misty hopped up from the chair and in spite of her anxieties, a smile tugged on her lips. “Thank you. Sleep tight, Miss Cordelia.”

  “Good night, Misty. Good luck tomorrow. I believe in you.”



“What do you think it’ll be like?”

  Misty bit her lip and turned her head towards Zoe. For what felt like the hundredth time that day, she regretted not being more firm with her refusal. She didn’t want to take this test, she didn’t want to be the next Supreme. Sure, with her succeeding the first Wonder, she’d felt a little more hopeful; maybe Cordelia was right, maybe she could pull this off. But as she lay there, sprawled out on the cold, hard floor, about to descend into her literal hell, her nerves had returned tenfold.

“I was hoping to never find out,” Zoe replied. Her hand reached out and took hold of Misty’s. “We’ll be fine,” she mumbled, more so to herself than to Misty.

Myrtle clasped her hands together as she concluded her instructions. “All right now, girls. You may begin.”

Misty closed her eyes and took a deep breath before she spoke the incantation. “ Spiritu duce, in me est. Deduce me in tenebris vita ad extremum, ut salutaret inferi. Descensum.”

  At first, there was nothing. Only darkness.

It was as if she were pulled under water and for a second she struggled to breathe. The darkness had her in its grip and wasn’t intending on letting go of her anytime soon. She pawed around in the dark, searching for something to hold onto, but her hands found nothing but air. Ice cold air, sending shivers through her entire body. Blurry shapes began to form around her and finally, her surroundings snapped into focus. As she looked around, however, she got the haunting feeling that perhaps the nothingness had been preferable.

  In front of her lay a dead frog and almost instinctively her hands reached up, hovering above the amphibian. Magic flowed through her veins, sending little shocks of electricity through her nimble fingers. Beneath her hands, the frog jolted awake. Misty barely had time to register what had happened before a voice besides her called out.

  “Mr. Kingery, she did it again!”

  A tall grey haired man appeared next to her. “Where’s the dissection frog?” he asked coldly. Before Misty could respond, he let out an impatient sigh. “Pick up the scalpel.”

  “No, please! Please don’t make me.”

  “If you won’t dissect a dead frog, you’ll dissect a live one.” His rough, calloused hand grabbed Misty’s, and she averted her gaze as he forced the scalpel down the frog’s tiny body. Tears clouded her vision and her shoulders heaved with sobs. She’d barely had a few seconds before the whole ordeal started over again and again and again. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried to fight it, she was unable to break the loop.

  That was, until she heard a voice call out to her. Misty’s head jerked up. I know that voice... “Delia?” she called out. “Delia!” Around her, everything stopped in its motions. “ Follow my voice. We’re all here waiting for you.” Misty choked on a sob. I’m trying, Delia! She wanted nothing more than to be back with her friends, to be with Cordelia... They’d gotten so close to one another in such a short time. I can’t lose her. .. The mere thought of Cordelia lit a fire inside her. She took a deep breath, focusing on Cordelia’s voice and slowly but steadily, the science lab started to fade back to the darkness. In the back of her head, she heard Cordelia’s voice chanting something in Latin and her brain latched onto it, repeating it over and over again like a mantra until suddenly, with a snap, she awoke.



Almost all the girls had returned. All of them except Misty. Cordelia had never doubted Misty’s abilities, but a grim feeling crept over her. She reached out for Myrtle, tugging her on the arm. “Guide me to her, please.”

Cordelia rested her hand onto Misty’s forehead, caressing the skin with her thumb. Images of Misty flashed before her and heart sank as the realisation set in. “She’s stuck.” She tried to tell you she wasn’t ready. She told you she didn’t want to do this. She trusted you, and now she’s stuck. It’s your fault. “We have to help her.”

  Myrtle sighed. “We can’t do anything, she has to come back on her own.There have been no cases of a witch being able to bring back another witch from Descensum. You know this, Delia.”

  “I don’t care,” Cordelia choked out. “We have to do something!” Please, Misty, I can’t lose you.

Cordelia cradled Misty’s body in her arms. “Follow my voice… We’re all here waiting for you.” Her fingers threaded through Misty’s curls and, unbothered with their lack of privacy, she pressed a soft kiss to Misty’s temple. “Come back to me, please,” she mumbled in a hushed whisper. “ Sequere lucem, venite ad me.” A fire-like sensation coursed through her entire body as her heart began to race. Around her, lights began to flicker on and off, potted plants hovered in the air for a few seconds before shattering apart and the fireplace violently sputtered on.

 Cordelia could hear Myrtle mutter “That’s telekinesis and Pyrokinesis..” to the others but she paid it no heed. She could only focus on Misty.

With a jolt, Misty awoke, coughing and fighting for breath. Cordelia gasped at the sudden movement in her arms. “Misty?” her hand slid down, out of her hair, to cup Misty’s cheek. “Oh, my dearest Misty.” She bit her lip, trying to stifle her sobs. “You— you were stuck,” she stuttered. “I didn’t know what to do. I’m so sorry I— I should have listened to you I shouldn’t have— I...” Misty didn’t reply. Instead, she wrapped her arms around Cordelia, pulling her close, burying her face in the crook of her neck and clinging onto her as if she were the last available lifeline. All Cordelia could hear were her quiet sobs and ragged breathing. Just give her a minute; she’s just returned from her literal hell. Cordelia shushed her. One arm wound tightly around Misty’s waist and her other hand settled on the nape of her neck, fingers tangling in her curls. “You’re safe now,” she mumbled, rocking her gently. “I’m right here with you, sweetheart, you’re okay.”

  A hand tapped Cordelia’s shoulder and all of a sudden she remembered the other people in the room. “Perhaps it’s best if we escort Misty to her room,” Myrtle offered. She snapped her fingers and motioned for Kyle to stand up.

  Cordelia nodded and gave Misty a gentle nudge. Her hands slid up, framing Misty’s face. “Are you okay? Can you stand up?” Misty nodded her affirmation and Cordelia stumbled to her feet, pulling Misty up with her. Kyle stepped closer, motioning for Misty to come with him and her grip on Cordelia’s arm tightened instantly. “Do you need me to come with you?” Misty squeezed her arm once in response. “Okay, don’t worry, I’ll stay right beside you.”

  “But Delia, we must finish the rest of—”

  “The test can wait. Or you’ll have to continue without me for all I care, I am going with her.”

  Myrtle sighed. Arguing would be futile, she knew that. “Very well then,” she said as she turned to Kyle. “My dear boy, would you escort them to Misty’s room, please?”



Sunlight trickled through the window of Misty’s room. The sun was almost setting now, casting the entire place in a golden, ethereal glow. Misty lay on her bed curled up into a ball, head resting in Cordelia’s lap. Cordelia gently combed her fingers through Misty’s hair as she softly hummed a tune. She hadn’t said a word yet and though this worried Cordelia, at least her breathing had steadied itself and her sobs had quieted down. She’ll talk once she’s ready, just be patient.

  She’d almost thought that Misty had fallen asleep, but all of the sudden she shifted slightly, releasing a rueful sigh. “They made me kill an innocent creature,” she said finally. “Over and over and over again.” Her lip trembled and her dull eyes glistened with tears. “I couldn’t stop it, I—I couldn’t break the loop. It just— it just kept repeating itself. I thought I was stuck forever. That’d I’d never be able to come back.” That I’d never see you again. Misty sniffled, wiping her tears away with the fabric of her shawl. She reached out for Cordelia’s hand and tangled their fingers together. “But then—,” she continued in a slightly lighter tone. “Then, I heard your voice.” A shadow of a smile appeared on her face. “You guided me home.” Misty sat up and wrapped her arms around Cordelia, pulling her into a tight hug. “Thank you.” she murmured as she pressed her nose to Cordelia’s shoulder, deeply inhaling her scent. She smelled of jasmine and vanilla and over the past few weeks it had become Misty’s favourite thing in the world.

Cordelia smelled like home.

  Cordelia smiled and leaned in to the embrace, looping her arms around Misty, smoothing her hands up and down the planes of her shoulders. She held her closely and tightly, afraid that if she were to let go that she’d disappear again.

Misty pulled back slightly. Her hands framed her Cordelia’s face, gently tugging her closer. Cordelia could feel her breath tickling against her skin and it ignited fire inside her chest that spread down to the pit of her stomach, where it settled. Misty rested her forehead against hers, but remained still after that. It took Cordelia a few seconds to realise that she was waiting for her to make the next move. She rested her palms against Misty’s shoulders and tilted her head upwards, noses bumping against one another. She sighed, lips less than an inch way from Misty’s when the sound of a door opening made them jump apart.

  “Delia! You must come quickly, it’s— it’s Zoe!”

  Slightly dazed, Cordelia needed a short moment to register that someone had entered the room and that that someone was also talking to her. “Zoe?” She hopped off the bed, almost stumbling in her haste. “ Fuck— What happened to Zoe?”

  Misty stood up as well, catching Cordelia just in time. “Is Zoe okay?”

  “No!” She wailed. “A terrible accident occurred while the girls attempted to perform transmutation, there’s no time for questions just follow me to the greenhouse.” And as quickly as Myrtle had come, she had left, leaving the two of them to their own again.

  Misty still held Cordelia in a protective grip, keeping her steady and upright. Cordelia swallowed the lump that had started to form in her throat and patted Misty’s arm. “Misty… I— We really need to get going,” she muttered. “Will you guide me, please?”

  Cordelia’s gentle nudge pulled Misty from her reverie. She shook her head momentarily, as if to rid herself from all the thoughts that raced through her mind. “Of course, miss Delia,” she assured. One hand settled on the small of her back and the other slid up to her elbow. “Let’s go then.”

  Never before had Misty felt weird about holding Cordelia. Quite the contrary, it had become such a natural thing to the both of them. Whenever they were together, shoulders would bump against one another, hands would almost instinctively reach out for gentle yet subtle caresses, arms would wind tightly around each other – it had always made her feel safe. Right now, however, things were different and she could feel a palpable tension vibrating in her very bones.

  Before, she had never thought anything of it either. It was normal for friends touch, wasn’t it? It was normal to love your friends and to care for them. But was it normal to want to be around them all the time? To want to hold them? To want to kiss them? Misty had been less than a second away from doing so. She hadn’t realised up until now how much she wanted to, how she yearned for her touch, how much she needed her.

   And she hadn’t realised up until now how deeply and wildly in love she was with Cordelia Goode.



Cordelia’s heels clicked against the stone floor as she entered the greenhouse. She took Misty by the wrist, using her Sight to catch a glimpse of the scene that had unfolded before her through Misty. Images of Queenie bending over Zoe flashed before her. Zoe’s face was pale, void of any sign of life, and blood poured from a gaping wound in her abdomen.

  Cordelia cursed under her breath, transmuting to the spot right next to Queenie.

  “I can’t do it. The Vitalum vitalis, it’s— it’s not working, miss Cordelia… I’m sorry,” Queenie said, voice thick with desperation.

  “Guess who isn’t supreme after all.” Madison snickered.

  From the other side of the room Cordelia could hear a loud, pained wail, no doubt coming from Kyle. Cordelia patted Queenie on the shoulder. “Honey, hey— calm down. It’s alright. It’s okay, go take Kyle inside for me, will you? I’ll take it from here. I’ll take care of Zoe.”

  Queenie sniffled before mumbling a ‘Yes ma’am’ and wrapped a comforting arm around Kyle’s shoulders. The sound of Kyle’s strangled sobs subsided as Queenie led him outside and Cordelia turned her head towards Madison. “Well?” she prompted.

“Well, what?” Madison snapped.

  “The Vitalum Vitalis ,” she said, not bothered with keeping the clipped tone out of her voice. “Can you do it?”

  “Oh, of course I can.”

  “Then what’s holding you back? Do it .”

  Madison sighed. “And would that make me the Supreme?”

  “It would mean we could continue with the test.”

  “Exactly what I thought.” Madison said. “I bring her back, and she’ll be back in the game because— what? You guys don’t want me to be the next Supreme? Is that it?”

“Oh for god’s sake Madison don’t be ridiculous.” Myrtle interjected. “Of course that’s not it, but the fact that you are refusing to bring back your sister witch, a member of the Coven that you may be leading soon, says a lot about whether or not you’re worthy of assuming the position.”

  Madison let out a sarcastic laugh. “But it’s not about that, is it? It doesn’t matter who deserves it, what matters is who manages to pass your dumb test.”

  “But you still have to pass the Vitalum Vitalis , don’t you?”

  Three heads snapped towards Misty, who had been silent up until now.

“Don’t you think this is the perfect moment to do so?” she continued in a meek, hushed tone.

  Madison pursed her lips in disdain, eyeing Misty provocatively. “Watch this, swamp rat.” She clapped her hands together, killing a fly as she did so. Misty flinched and whimpered, hands finding refugee in Cordelia’s. Madison rolled her eyes at Misty’s reaction before closing them, breathing life back into the small insect between her folded hands. The fly jolted for a second and immediately flew away. “There you go. Vitalum Vitalis . That’s six of the wonders, only one to go.”

“Madison…” Cordelia pleaded. “you can’t just not do this.”

“According to who?”

“Madison—”

  “I mean… It’s not like you can disqualify me, right? Either I am the Supreme or I’m not and given the fact that I am the only one still in the race—”

“Madison will you shut up ?” Cordelia spat “Shut up and go back inside right now , I don’t want you in my presence any longer.”

  Madison fell quiet mid-sentence and, as if controlled by an invisible force – driven by Cordelia herself, she made her way outside. Myrtle raised an eyebrow but remained quiet.

Only after Madison had left did Cordelia allow her tears to flow freely. She leaned one palm flat against the table, and with the other, she brushed her fingers over Zoe’s cheek. “I let this Coven fall into ruin,” she whispered. “My mother was right. I can’t believe she’s right. God I’m a fucking failure.”

Misty rested a hand on Cordelia’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s not your fault and you’re not a failure. Don’t be so hard on yourself.” She wrapped her arms around Cordelia’s waist, resting her chin atop her shoulder. “She was never right about you . You’re an awesome leader no matter what she says. I’ve learned so much from you in the past few weeks. You’re a amazin’ at what you do.”

  Cordelia sniffled and turned around in Misty’s arms. She leaned into the embrace, arms flung around Misty’s neck as she sobbed quietly. “I’ve fought so hard to be where I am today. I used to live my life trying to make Fiona proud but it was never enough. I really thought I was over it this time, I really hoped that all those years of therapy weren’t in vain. But the second she walked back through those doors all my confidence, everything I worked on for so long just went right out of the window and I was right back where I started. I was still that insecure, hopeless little girl that she abandoned. She is not even alive anymore and she still has me in her grip.”

“Fiona ain’t got shit and I’ll never forgive her for making you doubt yourself like that,” she said. “You’re suppressing yourself because of it.”

  “The girl is right.” Myrtle’s voice startled Cordelia for a second. She’d completely forgotten about her.

  “By god, she is right. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”

  “What do you mean?” Cordelia asked, as she retreated her arms from around Misty’s neck.

Two gloved hands – Myrtle’s hands – seized hers. “Delia, in the past hours I have seen you perform four out of the seven wonders. Not only that, but you brought another witch back from descensum.” At these words, she gave Misty a friendly nod. “Just this afternoon you proved that you master pyrokinesis and telekinesis, and just now you’ve performed transmutation and concilium.”

  Concilium ?”

  “Sweetheart, you really thought Madison left on her own accord?”

  “No, I- I don’t … I didn’t really think anything of it.”

  Delia , don’t you see?” Myrtle pleaded.

  Cordelia opened her mouth to say something but Misty beat her to it. “You need to take the test too, Delia.”

“You two really think that I could be the next Supreme?” she asked after a short silence.

  “Isn’t that what I have been saying for weeks?” Misty replied with a small smile.

  Cordelia turned to the redheaded witch. “Auntie Myrtle?”

  Myrtle took Cordelia’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Delia, I’m convinced of it. You must perform the Seven Wonders.”

A shadow of a smile appeared on her face. “Fine…”  she muttered. “I’ll do it. So we’ll start with Vitalum vitalis right now?”

Myrtle clicked her tongue. “It’s rather late, I say we sanction the tests tomorrow.”

  “And leave Zoe here all night? I don’t think so. We’ll do it tonight.”

  Her hands reached up to frame Zoe’s face. Come on… Cordelia exhaled slowly, every fiber of her being focused on the fiery energy that pumped through her veins. With every exhale, she could feel that same exact energy being transferred to Zoe’s lifeless body and despite the growing weakness in her knees, she persevered. Cordelia took a shaky breath and blew one last time, using all her might and every last ounce of magic that she could possibly muster up and finally—Zoe shot up, gasping for air, coughing and sputtering as her body jolted alive.

  Cordelia grasped the table in a feeble attempt to stay upright, drained from the exertion. Misty kept a firm grip in her elbow. “Are you okay, Delia?”

  Cordelia gave a small nod in response, unable to reply verbally.

  “Misty— you bring Delia to her room, I’ll take care of dear Zoe. The rest of the tests will be sanctioned tomorrow as planned.” Myrtle said.

  Misty nodded, scooping up Cordelia in her arms. “Come on then, lady,” she mumbled as Cordelia hooked her arms around her neck.

  Misty carried Cordelia back inside the academy where Queenie and Kyle had been waiting. Queenie had managed to calm him down somewhat, but that didn’t stop him from frantically jumping up the second Misty walked in.

  “Is Zoe alright?”

  “She’s in the greenhouse with miss Myrtle.” She gave a small nod towards Cordelia, who had fallen asleep in the meantime, breaths coming out in steady puffs that tickled Misty’s neck. “She brought her back,” she said, beaming with pride. “Where’s Maddy? Seems like she’s got some competition tomorrow.”

  Queenie laughed and shrugged. “She went up to her room, she’s pissed. She looked like she was about to cry. I’d love to see her reaction once she finds out about that tomorrow though.”

  Misty chuckled at the notion. “Yeah… Well, any way. I’m taking her upstairs. The vitalum vitalis took a bit of a toll on her, she’s exhausted.”

  “Can we go and see Zoe, though?” Kyle asked.

  “Not sure. I think miss Myrtle will bring her in soon, it’s best to just wait for that.”

  Kyle’s face fell, but Queenie nodded. “Alright then, goodnight to you two.”

“Goodnight.” Misty gave the two of them a friendly smile before she turned away, carrying Cordelia up the stairs to her room.

  With the utmost care, she gently laid Cordelia down onto the bed, sitting down right next to her. “I told you you could do it,” she whispered, lips quirked into a smile. Lithe fingers combed through Cordelia’s blonde locks. “You just had to believe in yourself the way I believe in you. I’m sure you’re gonna kick ass tomorrow.” She paused for a second, fondly staring at the sleeping woman beside her. “You know… I think I’m in love with you.” Misty sighed. “I can’t help it, but I am,” her voice was barely a whisper. “ God, I am, even though I probably shouldn’t.” she closed her eyes momentarily. Good thing she’s asleep…

  Misty took a deep breath. “Alright, I’ll just let you rest, I am gonna go  to check on Zoe.” she murmured before pressing a soft kiss to Cordelia’s temple. “Goodnight… Sweet Delia.”

Cordelia awoke a couple of hours later and found herself unable to fall asleep again. It had seemed such a good idea. Perform the Seven Wonders, assume the position of the next Supreme, lead the coven into a new era of prosperity… It had been less than four hours since she accepted Myrtle’s plea to take the test. With Misty’s encouragement, she’d felt a glimmer of hope. But what if they were both mistaken? What if she wasn’t the next Supreme? Many other witches had mastered the Vitalum vitalis. Her bringing back Zoe didn’t mean anything special.

If here mother were here right now, she would have surely berated her for her foolishness. And she would have been right.

With a sigh, Cordelia got out of bed. She pulled on her robe and fumbled around for her cane. Perhaps a short visit to the greenhouse would do her good, she figured. She knew the academy, the greenhouse and its surroundings like the back of her hand but she had found that, while it did help a little bit, her memory alone was never fully reliable.

  Over time she had adjusted to living her life in complete and utter darkness, but every so often she still managed to get herself injured one way or another. She entered the greenhouse, using her cane to guide her to the table where she had started working on a new potion the other day. With everything that had happened, that felt like nearly a week ago. She fumbled around for she flask, wincing as her hand was only met with the sharp fragments of broken glass. A throbbing pain shot through her palm. Something wet began to trickle down her arm and she groaned loudly.

  “D’you need some help with that?” Two soft hands grasped her wounded one, fingers gently probing the skin around the cut. Cordelia opened her mouth to say something but instead, she just nodded. “Alright then.” Misty gave her a gentle push towards the medicine table. “Sit, I’ll fix you right up.” Cordelia hopped onto the table and extended her hand for Misty to take. “I take it you can’t sleep either?” Cordelia asked. Misty’s motions stilled for a second before continuing again. She fiddled around with a variety of jars, mixed a couple of its contents together and began to massage a cold paste with a rather pungent smell into Cordelia’s palm. “Y’know, everytime I close my eyes… It feels like I’m right back there again,” she said eventually.

  “Oh, honey… I’m sorry” Cordelia rested her free hand on Misty’s elbow, hoping it would bring her at least a little comfort. A short silence lingered between the two.

“What about you, then?” Misty asked. “Nervous for tomorrow?”

“Just a little.” she admitted.

  “You’re going to be amazing, Delia, I know you are. You’ll be a wonderful Supreme.”

  Cordelia smiled, hand sliding down to hold Misty’s. “You have entirely too much faith in me.”

“I think the problem is that you have entirely too little faith yourself, Delia.” Misty countered with a dry chuckle. Her fingers brushed over her palm and she muttered a few latin words under her breath, sending icy tingles through Cordelia’s entire arm. She wrapped a bandage around Cordelia’s hand and gave it a gentle pat. “There, all good.”

“Already?”

  “Yes ma’am, you’re lucky we had some of the Louisiana mud left.”

  “Ah…” she flexed her hand, and to her surprise the pain was gone. “Thank you.”

  “Anything for you, Delia,” she mumbled. “Oh, before I forget, though…” She fiddled with the tassels on her shawl for a second before reaching into her pocket, producing a small velvet bag from it. “I ehm… I wanted to give you something for tomorrow. It’s a— oh, you know what I’ll just give it because if I tell you, it won’t be a surprise anymore you know,” she chuckled nervously, thrusting the pouch in her hand.

  Cordelia fumbled with the drawstrings for a second before Misty mumbled an apology, pouring the contents of the small bag into her hand.

  “It’s a necklace!” Misty clarified, only now realising that Cordelia couldn’t actually see her present. “An Amethyst, to be exact. For protection. They’re supposed to provide inner strength.”

  Cordelia bit her lip and smiled, overcome with emotions at Misty’s sweet gesture.

“Do you- ehm.. Do you like it? Made it myself.”

Cordelia nodded and flung her arms around Misty’s neck. “Oh, I love it, thank you,” she whispered. “Will you help me put it on?”

  “Of course!” Misty plucked the small gem from Cordelia’s hand and swiped her hair to she side.

  She’d crafted the necklace herself from a small piece of rope, so it lacked a proper clasp, but she made do with a neat knot instead. “There you go. Now you’re all set for tomorrow.”

  Cordelia smiled, reaching up to take Misty’s hands with both of hers. “Thank you,” she repeated, “This means the world to me.”

  A short moment passed where they were still joint at the hands, and Misty was still very much standing in Cordelia’s personal space. She didn’t mind that, though, she wouldn’t have wanted her to be anywhere else. Cordelia could feel her breath fan across her face and almost thought, no— hoped , that she would kiss her. She leaned closer and Cordelia could feel her heart pick up in her chest. Misty’s hand slid up to her elbow and ever so delicately, like a leaf fluttering to the ground in autumn, she pressed her lips to Cordelia’s.

  Misty’s lips were soft and warm and even though the kiss lasted for less than a second, its touch lingered for moments afterwards. “I- ehm…I have to uh… I have to go, I’ll see you in the morning.”

  Cordelia could feel Misty pull back from the embrace. “Wait!” She followed Misty, sliding of the table, blindly grasping for her wrist. “Wait…”

  Misty stilled her movements and Cordelia’s hands found her waist, pulling her flush against herself. “Stay,” she breathed. Standing on the tips of her toes, she hooked one arm around her neck and tugged her down into another kiss, which Misty eagerly reciprocated. Cordelia’s heart quivered. She had longed for this moment. She had longed for this moment for so much longer than she cared to admit, and she couldn’t help but smile a little into the kiss. Her arm joined the other around Misty’s neck and she pulled her even closer. Lips brushed against each other, softly, chastly and ever so gentle, but so much more forthright than the first time.

Misty smiled. Her heart was thumping so rapidly, for a second she felt like it would explode. She gave Cordelia a gentle push towards the table, encouraging her to hop back on. Her nees dug into Misty’s sides as she wedged herself between them. She wrapped her arms around Cordelia’s middle, hands moving up and down, short nails dragging over her the expanse of her back, drawing a keen sigh from Cordelia, who simply arched into Misty’s touch.

At last, breathlessly, Misty severed the kiss. She leaned her forehead against Cordelia’s as she tried to catch her breath but in all her excitement and elation, that seemed to be near to impossible. Cordelia lifted her hand to cup Misty’s cheek, thumb grazing over her pink, swollen lips. For a moment, neither of the two women spoke, both still relishing the moment with and not quite ready to let go. Soft smiles graced their features, cheeks flushed a rosy pink and chests still heaved with exhilaration.

  Misty released sigh. Her voice was but a soft whisper. “Christ, you’re amazin’ Delia,” she murmured, lips quirked into a smile.

Cordelia smiled, hand sliding up to play with Misty’s hair. “You’re not so bad yourself either.”

  “Not so bad, that’s all I get?” Misty asked, eyebrow arched in amusement.

  A grin spread across Cordelia’s features and she placed a quick peck on Misty’s lips. “Misty Day, you are the most beautiful, radiant and extraordinary woman I have ever met in my entire life,” she amended. “Good?”

  Misty laughed and nodded, pressing a soft kiss to Cordelia’s cheek. She leaned forward, lips grazing Cordelia’s in a featherlight touch. “Perfect.”



That next morning, Cordelia woke up with a smile. A warm feeling spread through her chest as memories from the night before flooded through her mind. Her heart swelled as she thought of the way Misty had held her, touched her, kissed her. For a short, fleeting moment, all her worries and and anxieties had melted away. God, I love her so much…

  But as she lay there, it slowly began to dawn on her that today was the day. Today was the day that she would have to perform the Seven Wonders and an eerie nervosity came over her.

  She dragged herself out of bed to get ready and took a quick shower before changing into the black flowy dress she’d laid out the night before. She fumbled around for the zipper but found herself unable to find it. With a loud groan she dropped back down on the bed.

  “Delia?” Misty knocked on her bedroom door once before entering. “Everything okay? Are you ready to go?”

  Cordelia pouted and sat up, nodding. “I’m fine. Almost done. I just need to ehm—” she gestured at her back.

Misty chuckled and sat down next to Cordelia. “Oh, need me zip you up?”

  “Yes, please.”

The tips of Misty’s fingers trailed over her the bumps of her spine as she zipped up the dress. “There we go.”

  “Thank you.”

  Misty kissed Cordelia’s cheek. “Welcome, dear. You look stunning,” she said, twisting a lock of blonde hair around her finger before tucking it behind Cordelia’s ear. “Ready?”

Cordelia bit her lip and nodded. She leaned forward, pressing her lips to Misty’s in a chaste kiss. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”

  Misty led Cordelia to the living room, where the rest of the Coven had already been waiting.

  “Trumping up some competition, I see?” Madison scoffed. “Fine. Whatever, I’ll finish your stupid test. It’s not like you competing against me will change that I’m Supreme.”

  “Are you sure about that?” Queenie countered.

  Girls.”   Myrtle said. “Enough, let’s begin. Are you ready Delia? You’ve already passed the Vitalum vitalis. Our dear Zoe is resting comfortably in her room still, so we’ll start with telekinesis . Misty led Cordelia to the table where Myrtle had laid out the same candelabra from yesterday. “You can do it,” she whispered before moving away. “I believe in you.”

For now, that was all Cordelia needed. Her hand hovered above the table. Telekinesis was one of the things she had first mastered upon arriving here. This is not so hard… Misty is right. Maybe I can do this . With a swift motion, she caught the candelabra in her hands. She carefully set it down on the table again, hand reaching up to hover above the wick of the candle. With a flick of her hand, she ignited the flame. “That’s two.” she said.

“That’s nothing .” Madison replied coldly.

  Cordelia didn’t reply. She flicked her hand once more, to the fireplace this time, where a large flame erupted. She suppressed a smirk once she heard a scoff from Madison and muffled gasps from the others.

Myrtle, however, made no such effort. With a proud, beaming smile, she continued. “ Transmutation , then.”

Cordelia nodded, focusing deeply on where she wanted to go, directly aiming for that spot. She could see it in her mind oh so clearly. She straightened her back and transmuted herself to right in front of Madison. She tilted her head slightly. Dance. You will dance. Madison seemed unphased at first but something, invisible to Cordelia, in her eyes changed. As if she were once again in some kind of trance. Cordelia’s magic had her in its grip and with great reluctance she followed Cordelia’s orders, drawing a hoot of laughter from Queenie.

Cordelia turned towards her. Join her . Queenie instantly stood up, from the sofa,  joining Madison with a silly little dance.


Myrtle clapped her hands. “ Divination ! Madison, would you like to join Cordelia at the dinner table?”

Madison rolled her eyes but took the chair next to Cordelia.

  Myrtle emptied a jar of pebbles on the table. “I have hidden two objects belonging to former supremes. It’s up to you ladies to divine their locations. Cordelia we’ll start with you. Divine the location of the item that belonged to Mimi DeLongpré.

  Images of several different items flashed before her as she moved her hands over the pebbles, quickly, fleetingly, but one image stood out to her, just a little bit brighter and just a little bit clearer than the others and something deep within her, an instinct, told her that this was what she needed. “Her brooch.” she said. “It’s her brooch. Southwest corner, up the stairs, second door down the hall and beneath the dresser.”

  “Queenie, dear, would you walk up there and check?” Myrtle asked.

No longer than three minutes later, Queenie returned with a small brooch, embedded with bright blue sapphires and various intricate little decorations. “She’s right!”

  “Very well. Your turn, Madison. Divine the object that belonged to Supreme Annaleigh Leighton,” Myrtle said.

  Madison swallowed and held her hands up.

  “Not so brave now, are you?” Queenie teased.

  “I can do this.” Madison said. She closed her eyes, hands hovering above the brightly coloured stones. “I— ehm… I can do this,” she repeated.”

Queenie snickered. “Doesn’t look like it.”

  “Well maybe if you’d shut up I could actually concentrate.” Madison snapped.

  Her eyes flicked back to the stones, closing them once more. “It’s the— ehm it’s her necklace. Above the fireplace.”

  “I am sorry but that is not correct.” Myrtle said.

  “Her ring, I meant her ring, it‘s—.”

“Madison, it’s over.”

  Madison huffed, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “This is bullshit!”

  Misty rested her hands on Cordelia shoulders. “Delia did pass the test.”

  “That’s because your little girlfriend rigged this fucking game.” Madison spat

  “Are you accusing us of chicanery?” Myrtle asked indignantly.

“You bet your ass I am. You never wanted me to run this coven in the first place.”

  “I didn’t want Fiona to run this coven either, dear. What I want has got nothing to do with it, remember? You either are, or you aren’t the Supreme. You failed to pass the seventh wonder, and while you are a very powerful witch and an excellent addition to this Coven you simply are not the Supreme”

Madison crossed her arms again and didn’t reply. She averted her gaze and stared out of the window. “Whatever,” she mumbled.

  “Girl, just sit down and let Cordelia finish the test.”

  Madison glared at Queenie “You know what? Fuck it.” she hissed. She turned on her heels marched away. Before leaving the room she stopped. “I’m leaving this shithole,” she huffed over her shoulder before slamming the door closed.

  For a moment, no one spoke, but then Myrtle cleared her throat. “Very well then, Cordelia. Descensum. Madison will be dealt with later.

  With Misty’s guiding hands, Cordelia lay down on the floor. Her hand reached to hold Misty’s, and she gave it one last squeeze before she spoke the incantation. “Spiritu duce, in me est. Deduce me in tenebris vita ad extremum, ut salutaret inferi. Descensum”

  An ice cold chill ran down her spine, settled in her very bones and the goosebumps erupted all over her skin. She swallowed hard and tried to ignore the unsettling feeling that crept over her. Slowly, the setting of her personal hell began to form itself and for a moment, she closed her eyes and held her breath, anxious to find out what it had in store for her. You can do it. Think happy thoughts, think about Misty . Her heart swelled at the very thought of the bohemian witch. Soon you’ll be back with her… Her hand reached up to fidget with the amethyst pendant and with her new-found courage she finally opened her eyes, squinting at the bright lights.

  When her eyes adjusted, she looked around, only to find that she was exactly where she had been right before she descended into hell. “Delia?” A soft voice coming from somewhere below her startled her, but it was nothing compared to the dread she felt upon seeing the source of it. On the floor, right next to her, was Misty. Her face was white as a sheet and her blood-covered hands pressed against her chest, feebly trying to stem the blood that poured from what appeared to be a stab wound. “Misty!” With a yelp, Cordelia fell to her knees. “Delia…” Misty coughed, and a thin stream of blood dribbled from her lips.

“Let me see, let me help you.” She carefully lifted Misty’s hands, investigating the wound beneath them. Her heart wrenched as the tears began to roll down her cheeks. “You’re okay, you’re going to be okay I promise you.”

  Ignoring the tears that stung her eyes, she scooped up Misty’s mangled body, holding her in her arms. Her trembling hand hovered above the wound as she began to chant. “ Ad sanandum nocere, da nobis salutem.” But while her magic usually instantly began to flow, nothing happened this time, no matter how many times she repeated it, no matter how strong her intention. “ Shit- It’s not working!” she choked out. “Misty, hey?” Her hand slid up to caress her cheek, thumb gently stroking the pale white skin. “Stay strong for me. You can do it.”

  Misty shook her head. “I can’t, Delia. I’m so sorry but I can’t, it hurts, ” she whimpered, tears running down her face. “Misty, please you’re so strong just- just stay strong, just a little while longer. You can do it, yeah? Do it for me.” Cordelia’s words were barely audible through her sobs. Misty’s breathing became even more shallow and laboured. She shook her head once again and lifted her hand up, fingers brushing her cheekbone,“I am sorry Delia,” she repeated. “I love you…” The faintest of smiles lit up her features for a fraction of a second, and then her body went entirely limp.  Cordelia let out a strangled sob and shook her head. No, no no no… This isn’t real, this isn’t real, this is not real. She closed her eyes, hugging Misty’s lifeless body tightly, and repeated it over and over again, almost like a prayer, until Hell finally released her from its clutches.

Gasping for air, Cordelia shot up. Her head was buzzing painfully. A newfound power flowed through her veins. Her limbs felt as if they were on fire and a bright light burned in her eyes- Her eyes? She blinked a few times and looked around the room, at all the faces staring at her

in awe, at Myrtle who beamed with pride, at Misty who had been sitting on the floor right beside her. Her fingers grazed over her face, and where the skin around her eyes used to be swollen and scarred, it was now soft and smooth again.

  Her eyes darted back to Misty, to her encouraging smile, that desperately seemed to hide the eerie darkness behind her gaze, undoubtedly a little unwanted souvenir from her personal hell, and down to her abdomen where, to her relief, were no signs of any afflictions.

  Misty scooted closer, hands cradling Cordelia’s face. A warm smile spread across her features as she ran her thumb along the ridge beneath her eye. “Oh Delia look at you, you have such pretty eyes,” she sighed. “What did you see? Are you okay?”

  Cordelia tore her eyes away from Misty’s stomach and looked up, right into her curious cerulean eyes. With a soft smile, Misty tucked a strand or golden blonde hair behind her ear, her touch lingering there for just a little while longer than necessary. “Hm?” She prompted. Cordelia nodded slowly, wrapping her arms around Misty’s neck. “I am okay now.” A content sigh blew from her lips. She’s fine, she’s safe, everything is okay…  “Just- Just let me hold you for a little while. Is that alright?”

  Misty simply nodded and leaned into the embrace, hooking her arms around her waist. “Of course it is, sugar.” Whatever she saw, if her own experience was any indication, it can’t have been very nice. Her chest tightened at the very thought of Cordelia, scared and alone, forced to witness her greatest fear and she held her even closer, hoping it would heal whatever hurt her trip to the netherworld had caused her.

  Cordelia buried her nose into Misty’s wild curls, deeply inhaling her familiar earthy scent. It seemed so real . Eyes screwed shut, she tried to rid herself from the unpleasant memories that flooded her mind. I don’t ever want to let her go .

Cordelia could feel Misty’s fingers draw small, soothing shapes on the small of her back and slowly but steadily, her heart stopped racing, the burning ache in her limbs lessened and her headache became less severe. Somewhat reluctantly, Cordelia relinquished her hold and with Misty’s help, she stumbled to her feet. She smiled at Misty once more, knuckles brushing over her cheek, before turning to Myrtle, who had been patiently waiting for Cordelia to recover.

With a dramatic yet graceful gesture she stood up, flinging her arms around Cordelia. “Oh, my darling girl!” She exclaimed. “I knew you had it in you.” Myrtle’s delicate gloved hand stroked her face before she turned back to the others. “Behold, your new Supreme!”



It’s been late in the afternoon and the all members of the Coven had retreated to their rooms to prepare for the celebratory banquet. Cordelia wandered the long hallways with Misty in her wake, hands fitted together, close enough for their shoulders to brush. The door to Madison’s room stood ajar, and loud noises could be heard from inside. Cordelia, who’d been amidst telling an embarrassing childhood story, stopped mid-sentence. The pair stood there for a second, listening to the bangs and crashes that came from the room. Cordelia gave Misty a gentle nudge towards her own room and her voice dropped to a hushed whisper. “Hey, you go ahead and get ready, I’ll be with you in a minute.”

Cordelia knocked on Madison’s door before carefully peeking inside. Clothes were strewn all over the place, and on her bed lay a huge suitcase. She leaned against the frame of the door. “Madison, before you leave can I talk to you for a second?”

Madison’s head jerked up. “What’s there left to talk about?” she hissed.

  With a shrug, Cordelia entered the room. “A lot,” she said. “May I sit down?”

  “Do whatever you want.”

  Cordelia patted the spot next to her. “Will you just hear me out?”

  Madison pursed her lips and crossed her arms in disdain, but sat down anyway.

  “I’m really sorry.”

  “About what exactly?”

“Everything.” Cordelia said. “I understand that you’re frustrated and that you want to leave. Yes, I have been very hard on you, I’ll admit that. In the past few months, a lot has happened. With you, with Fiona, with the hunters... It hasn’t been easy on any of us. We lost Nan, we almost lost Zoe.”

Madison rolled her eyes and averted her gaze. “Are you going anywhere with this?”

“What you did, Madison, is inexcusable. You do realise that, don’t you? We are a coven. We do not turn our backs on each other.”

With a groan, Madison stood up. “Listen I don’t have time for this bull—.”

  Cordelia seized her by the wrist. “We do not turn our backs on each other, just like we won’t turn our backs on you now,” she continued.

  Madison relaxed a bit beneath Cordelia’s grip and looked at her in disbelief. “What do you mean?”

 Cordelia smiled softly. “You’re still a part of this coven, and whether you like it or not we’re like family. I know you’re not much of a family person, given that your actual family hasn’t really been good to you. Believe me, I know what how that feels. My father left when I was seven years old and I grew up with Fiona. I’ll spare you the details on that, I think you can imagine what that must have been like.”

The harsh look on Madison’s face softened a bit and she gave a nod as the sat down again.

“People like us— with such dysfunctional family members… We choose our own family. We all want to be there for you, but we can’t do that if you keep pushing us away, lashing out at those who try to get close to you.” Cordelia patted her on the knee and stood up. “It’s entirely up to you whether you want to stay or go. I would love for you to stay with us. If you do stay, however, there will be some things that must be sorted out. I will expect you to clean your act, and to be a responsible and active member of the coven. No funny business. No playing around. Besides, I am going to need a council.” she said, with a suggestive smile. “It’s up to you, Madison. I will respect your decision no matter what you decide to do, but think about what I said. Alright?”

  Madison stood up as well and nodded. “I will.”

“Will I see you at the banquet later?”

  Madison shrugged. “I don’t know that yet. We’ll see,” she tried to make it sound disinterested, but something about the tone in her voice told Cordelia that Madison did care.

“That’s okay. No pressure.” Cordelia said. “Now come here.” She pulled Madison into a tight embrace. “I’ve got you, okay? Don’t forget that.”

  “I think you forgot that I am not much of a hugger.” Madison mumbled, but despite that, she leaned into the embrace.

  Cordelia chuckled. “Learn how to live with it then,” she muttered before letting her go. “Right, I need to get ready now so I’ll leave you to it. Don’t make any rash decisions, Madison. Really think about it. You would do well as a member of the council.”

With that, Cordelia made her way to the door again but before she could close it, Madison stopped her.

  “Cordelia?”

  “Yes?”

  “Thank you.” The faintest of smiles appeared on her face.

  Cordelia smiled back at her. “Of course. Any time.”




When Cordelia returned to her room, Misty had already been there waiting for her. She was sitting on the windowsill, lost in her thoughts, staring at the rapidly falling dusk. A warm, pleasant feeling came over Cordelia as she watched her. The way she was sitting there, legs tucked beneath her, azure eyes free of the darkness that had lingered there just moments ago— She looked calm. She looked at peace.

  Misty had changed into a brightly coloured flowy summer dress and her ever-present shawl loosely clung to her shoulders as she absent-mindedly fumbled with the black tassels. Cordelia walked past her, hand briefly touching her shoulder as she did so, and sat down opposite to her.

  “Hey. How’d it go with Maddy?”

Cordelia sighed. “I don’t know. I think it went alright, but she’s a volatile girl. Who knows if she’ll stay. Even if she does stay, who’s to tell for how long that’ll be? She’s going to have to work really hard to better herself. I’m just not sure how willing she is to do so.”

Misty nodded and reached out her hand to hold Cordelia’s. “I get that you’re worried and that you want to help her but unless she allows you to, you won’t get anywhere. You’d only piss her off even more.”

“I know that,” Cordelia admitted, fiddling with one of the rings around Misty’s fingers. “It’s just hard to…”

  “To let go?”

  “I suppose so, yeah,” she sighed. “I just don’t want her to think she’s unwanted or- or unloved or anything like that. I- I don’t want to make her feel the way Fiona has made me feel my entire life.”

“Oh Delia…” Misty breathed. She wrapped her free arm around Cordelia’s waist and pulled her closer, into her lap. “But you know now that you’re not, right?”

Cordelia didn’t reply. Instead, she just averted her gaze and continued to fidget with Misty’s ring. She tapped the silver one shaped like a frog. “I like this one, it’s always been my favourite.”

  “Cordelia,” Misty prompted, manoeuvring into her line of sight. “Don’t try to change the subject. You do know that you’re neither of those things, right?”

  “Misty— I…” she began but her speech faltered as the tears began to roll down her cheek.

  Misty’s hands framed Cordelia’s face, thumbs brushing away the tears.  “Look at me… I want you. I love you.”

  With a deep, shuddering sigh, Cordelia nodded and hooked her arms around Misty’s neck. “I love you too,” she said, smiling softly through her tears. She shifted slightly, moving her legs to straddle Misty’s waist, ankles tucked together on the small of her back. She rested her forehead to Misty’s. “I love you,” she repeated in a hushed murmur before pressing her lips to Misty’s.

  Misty dipped her head down and leaned into the kiss. She parted her lips slightly, tongue gliding against Cordelia’s bottom lip before catching it between her own. Her hands wandered down, roamed Cordelia’s body in a tentative and exploratory way before settling on her knees, just beneath her dress. Her hands slid up slightly. Fingers grazed over her thighs and dug into the soft skin, drawing a soft moan from Cordelia.

  Cordelia’s delicate hands slipped up, one caressing Misty’s face, the other tangling into her curls. Short nails dragged over Misty’s scalp. Misty sighed contently, arching her back, pressing herself flush against Cordelia.

  A sharp knock on the door made them break apart. “Delia? Dinner will be ready in an hour or so!” Myrtle’s voice boomed through the closed door, followed by the sound of retreating footsteps.

“Fuck-” Cordelia groaned. “I’d- I had almost forgotten about that,” she whispered.

  Misty’s eyes had taken on a darkened hue. She blinked once, twice, completely disoriented and still very much intoxicated by Cordelia. She had barely even registered Myrtle. “You what?”

  “The banquet- We have to go, I need to get ready. We need to go.” Despite her words, Cordelia made no effort whatsoever get up. Instead, she simply held on to Misty.

  “Do you even want to go?”

  “Myrtle’s gone above and beyond to prepare this for—.”

  “That’s no answer to my question.”

  Cordelia leaned her head to Misty’s and smiled. “I would rather stay here with you.”

“Maybe not here exactly though?” Misty groaned and shifted. “The windowsill is not exactly the most comfortable place.”

  “Right. Of course,” she chuckled. She turned her head to look outside, where the sky had taken on a burnt umber hue and sighed deeply. “You know, I used to always love watching sunsets.” she mused. “They just have something so… Ethereal and calming. Have you ever seen something so beautiful it just— takes your breath away?”

  Misty nodded, brushing her nose along Cordelia’s jawline. “Yeah I have. And she continues to do so every single time I see her. But that’s okay,” she said, kissing her cheek. “I don’t blame her.”

  “Oh, Misty…”

  “Here, give me your hand,” she whispered. She took Cordelia’s hand and slid the silver frog ring around her finger. “I’ve got another one, look.” She held up her other hand, flashing the identical ring. “I knew it was your favourite. Now we both have one. We’re connected.”

  Cordelia sniffled, fists knotting into fabric of Misty’s shawl as she pulled her towards her, lips brushing against hers in a chaste kiss. “I love you.”

  “I love you too, Delia.” Misty rested her forehead to Cordelia’s, rubbing their noses together.

  “I really don’t want to go to be honest.”

“Neither do I.”

Cordelia pressed a long, lingering kiss to Misty’s lips. “Hm, then that decides it.” She stood up, careful not to fall, and pulling Misty along with her. “Myrtle is going to be disappointed, though,” she murmured as she eased down onto her bed, tugging Misty down as well. Cordelia pressed a trail of soft kisses down Misty’s neck, “ so disappointed.”

  Misty grinned, her hands slid up, grazed her thighs and bum, caressed sides, trailed over the expanse of her back. Her hands stilled as her fingers found the zipper of Cordelia’s dress, pausing momentarily. “Hmm… You’re right, I kinda feel bad for her too.” Misty replied, tone indicating her falsehood. “Wanna get ready and join the others after all, then?” she teased.

  “Absolutely not.”

  “Good,” Misty smiled “Then kiss me already.”