Mildred had a good morning. It was Friday, that meant that she had a whole weekend in front of her. They had two hours of potions this morning and Mildred’s potion had turned out fine without anything exploding. She had no complaints from Miss Hardbroom and Ethel had gotten a new broom from home, too busy bragging about it to bully her. Except a jip at her mother’s not existing wealth. Mildred hadn’t let it bother her because she knew that her mother may not be rich but her father all the more so.
When Ethel had started her teasing, she had just shared a secret smile with her friends and ignored her for the rest of the lesson.
And in the afternoon they would have Spell-Science with Mr. Rowan-Webb. And she had always liked him and had fun in his lessons. So she counted the day as a good one.
Mildred and her friends had just left the potions lab, getting ready for lunch. She risked a look at her phone, making sure that no one saw her and was out of sight thanks to her friends covering her. She frowned in confusion when she saw that she had a missed call. Especially after she clicked on it and realized that it was from her father.
Strange. She knew her father was in France right now on a mission. And he always made sure to never call her when he was gone for ‘business’. So for him to call her … that had to mean something must have happened, right?
Cold dread filled her body and her face fell. What if something had happened to him?
“Mildred? Are you alright?” The concerned question from her friend Maud brought her out of her head and she looked up, blinking in confusion.
“What?” She asked, not really realizing how worried she had looked.
“She means what’s wrong? You look worried. Is everything alright?” Enid clarified and Mildred shook her head.
“My dad called.” Mildred explained and her friends frowned.
“He never calls when he’s away, does he?” Enid asked and Mildred shook her head.
“No. He told me he would try to avoid calling me because he could never know who might be listening in and it would be safer for me to either only text or wait until he’s back.” She explained.
“Then why would he call now? Did something happen maybe” Maud asked and Mildred shook her head.
“That’s what I have to find out. He left me a message on the answering machine. I’m gonna go up to my room, okay?” She said, nodding to her friends and without waiting for a response she hurried up, making sure to close the door behind her.
She sat down on the bed, cuddling Tabby who head butted her hand, asking for scratches she gave him happily and listened to the message.
With every word more of her insides turned to ice. Her whole world started to shatter and she could only hear a buzz in her head, unable to think. She felt like she couldn’t breathe, her throat clogging up while she could only stare at the phone gaping while slowly tears fell down her cheeks. She felt lost, her head empty, she couldn’t think.
“Mildred? Everything alright? Open up please!”
Mildred didn’t know how long she had been sitting there, just staring and crying. Numb she stood up and opened the door.
As soon as the other two girls saw her, they gasped and entered the room, closing the door behind them and hugging Mildred. As soon as she could feel their arms around her, Mildred broke. Sobs and tears fell down her face freely, her chest hurt and she just lost herself. She clung to her friend, who clung back, not willing to let her go.
After a few minutes they had manoeuvred her onto her bed, waiting for Mildred to calm down. Finally she choked out what the message said. It had been a good bye. Her father not thinking he could make it and apologizing.
Mildred could barely string two sentences together but somehow her friends were able to understand her. They just held her, not knowing what else to tell her and trying their best to only be there for her.
Mildred cried her eyes out, not wanting to spend another moment there. It felt like her world had ended. She had never felt like that. So sad and hurt, it was like it had consumed her completely and she was lost in darkness.
Suddenly Tabby weaselled his way into her arms, meowing unhappily and dropping something into her lap. Mildred sniffed and held it up before breaking into another set of tears. It was the compass that showed her the way to her father. Now it would be useless.
“He’s still alive!”
Mildred flinched and stared at Enid, not comprehending what she just said. But Enid was engrossed in the compass, grabbing and examining it. The dark haired witch then stared imploringly at her grieving friend.
“The needle! It’s not broken and still shows the way. That means he’s still alive wherever he is!” Enid’s eyes begged her to understand. And slowly but surely Mildred came out of it, starting to understand what this meant.
“I have to find him!”
Finally she snapped completely out of it. Her whole body drumming with adrenaline, not being able to bear the thought of sitting still. She jumped up and grabbed her broom, ready to fly away.
“Wait wait wait!” Maud stopped her, waving her arms in front of her.
“There’s no time to wait!” Mildred almost screamed, “My dad could be who knows where dying! I have to help him!” She was about so shove her way outside, when Maud held her shoulders and almost shook her.
“We know! And we want to help! But you can’t just fly there without any preparation!” Maud stared her directly in her eyes, hoping that she would just understand.
They were locked in a staring match, when Mildred finally relented, stepping a step back and taking a deep breath.
“Okay. Fine. Then what am I supposed to do?”
Maud sighed in clear relief. “First question. Do you know where your father is currently?”
Mildred thought for a second and then nodded. “He told me his mission was in France. A few days ago he had been somewhere in the south, but they have started to move up closer to England. Last time we wrote he said he was on his way to Calais.”
Maud noddd. “That’s good. You can reach him in a days’ flight.” But then she hesitated again. “Although you have to fly over the ocean. And it’s really windy up there. It’s not gonna be easy.”
Mildred shook her head. “I don’t care! I fly to China if I have to. I have to save my father!”
Enid intervened. “We know. And we’re gonna help you. We will cover you this afternoon and for the weekend and we’ll help you sneak out of the castle. But you still have to prepare because it’s going to be a long flight.”
And so they planned. Maud sneaked into the kitchen and stole food, so she could keep her energy up and they filled her backpack with sandwiches and snacks and water. Enid gave her a portable mirror and made sure she packed her magical mirror credit card. “For emergency’s and if you need help.”
Maud made sure she had her scarf and gloves as it would be windy and cold and in the end Mildred put on her hat and her cloak, backpack ready and broom in her hand. They promised her to take care of Tabby and to cover her before Mildred opened the window and flew out. She had to make sure no one saw her, but she knew that everyone was still at lunch.
She turned back to her friends one last time. “Thank you.” She said, throwing them a small smile. They just shook their head.
“Don’t mention it,” Maud replied and smiled at her.
“Good luck.” Enid said and throwing her a thumps up. “Go and save your dad.”
Mildred nodded. “I will.” She threw them one last look and waved before ascending. The two girls waved back.
Mildred had been in the air for hours now. She had been following her compass, every passing second more dread filled her, every passing minute she feared that the needle would break and she would be too late. She was so scared and feared for the worst.
Mildred had not allowed herself any breaks on the ground and ignored any cricking and any kind of pain her body gave her fore sitting too long. She was not hungry but forced herself to eat to keep her energy up. She couldn’t afford to show any weakness now.
Finally she reached Dover. Right in front of her were the famous cliffs and after that the wide ocean. Normally she loved the ocean and she remembered how she had enjoyed it the few times they had visited. But she couldn’t care less right now.
Mildred stopped for a second and took a deep breath. As soon as she would be over the ocean the wind would change and make it harder for her to fly. She knew it but it only made her more determined. It might seem endless now, but she knew that right after the ocean her father was waiting for her. So she braced herself and went full speed forward.
As she expected, the winds were strong and the first few minutes she had trouble controlling her broom, fearing that she would fall down and being devoured by the giant waves under her. But she refused to bow and rushed forward.
After a while she finally got used to these strong ocean winds and it was easier, even able to use it to her advantage and riding some bursts, propelling her forward like those seagulls around her.
After what felt like way too long she finally arrived over land again. She was in Calais. She was in France, another country she had never been before and where she didn’t speak the language.
Fear curled up inside of her but she ignored it, following the trail her needle laid out for her, not stopping and not slowing down.
In the end she stood in front of a giant building, the needle pointing down to the basement.
Why was it always the basement? Couldn’t villains think of another place to keep their prisoners?
Mildred shook her head, trying to think of a way to break in. As long as she had her broom on her, no one could see her. Maybe she could use this to her advantage.
So she stood in front of the entrance, finally standing for a second, almost breathing out in relief before supressing it and waiting with baiting breath that someone would enter or come out so she could slip inside. She didn’t dare to go herself because there were two burly men standing left and right watching the door and she was sure that they were armed, too. They didn’t see her, but that didn’t mean she wanted to risk more than she already did.
For a second she thought about turning them into animals and just slipping inside, but she threw that idea away because she was sure that it would draw too much attention. There were still people walking around after all, even though it was evening. There were however still a few hours until complete darkness.
Finally, after what felt like forever, the door opened and a well-dressed big man came out. Muscled and big but who, like everyone else, couldn’t see her. So Mildred used this opportunity and slipped inside just as the door was about to close. She held her breath the whole time, fearing that they would realize but no one came after her. After the door closed behind her, she allowed herself to breath.
Her heart was beating like crazy and her hands were sweating. She was so nervous and could feel the adrenaline cursing through her.
Was that how her father felt every mission? If so she really didn’t see the appeal of this job.
But there was no time to think about it now. She shook her head and continued to follow the trail, holding onto her broom, fearing that she would be visible again as soon as she would let go. And knowing that she would be doomed if anyone ever saw her here.
The door to the basement was locked, but for her it was child’s play to open it. A simple spell and the door swung open, revealing a set of stairs leading into the basement. Mildred gulped but braced herself. Just calm down. It wasn’t like she had never done something like this. She remembered how she had saved her father once. She could do it again. Just be calm.
Mildred descended the stairs, heart beating with every step she took.
Finally she came to another door. The young witch took a deep breath before spelling it open. When it swung to the side, Mildred’s insides turned to ice and she choked.
In front of her sat her father. Bloodied, beaten and unconscious chained to a chair. Mildred barely recognized him and only thanks to her gut feeling and needle now pointing directly at him she was sure that it was him. There was blood everywhere, one wound deeper than the rest, still dripping blood.
Mildred knew she would have nightmares for a long time because of it. She didn’t know what she had expected but it had definitely not this gruesome picture in front of her.
Mildred stumbled forward, dropping her broom and kneeling in front of him, not caring if she was visible again or not.
“Dad! Dad! Can you hear me? It’s me! Mildred! Please wake up! Dad!” Mildred begged her father to say something, just give a reaction and let her know that he heard her. But he wouldn’t react.
Mildred touched his face, not at all caring for the blood and just staring at him. Finally her father gave the barest twitch. She sighed in relief.
“Mil … dred …” He croaked, able to get a glimpse of her.
Mildred smiled in relief. “Yes dad. It’s me!”
Her father’s lips twitched as if he wanted to smile but he lost consciousness again.
“Dad? Dad!” No answer.
Mildred felt panic rising up inside of her, but in that moment she knew that she couldn’t afford it. Her father came first. She could panic when all of this was over.
“Don’t worry dad. I’m getting us out of here. I’ll definitely save you.”