“And this is the training ground. We have a fitness room, a room with mats and our very own shooting range.” Eve showed her the room and Mildred looked around in wonder. She had the biggest grin on her face and turned fast from one sight to the next.
“Wow! It’s so big!” She commented with a glimmer in her eyes.
Eve laughed. “Of course,” She explained, “We need it for all our agents. Not only the double O’s, but also a lot of regular agents who have to keep themselves in shape while they are in downtime or holiday.”
Mildred grinned. It was really cool. Eve had showed her around different departments and they were all so interesting! Sure, there was one or another that was kind of boring, like the financial department. But others were really interesting. She had loved it. Especially the Q Branch had awoken her interest, what with all the gadgets and mission currently running.
When they had been in Q branch, everyone had stopped and stared at her and she hadn’t understood why, until Eve had told her that when her dad sent her his last message, he hadn’t turned off his earpiece and thus everyone had heard what he had send her. And everyone had heard that she had saved him and that her dad was currently in medical recuperating from torture.
Eve had winked at her and whispered that no one knew how she did it. Her magic was still a secret to everyone except the few people currently in her father’s room. Mildred had sighed in relief and almost hid behind Eve in embarrassment as everyone stared at her in curiosity.
A beautiful woman a bit over Eve’s age came closer, smiling at her disarmingly and held her hand open.
“Hello,” She greeted the two. “I’m R. You’re Mildred Hubble, right? 006’s daughter?”
Mildred stared at her in surprise but nodded. She laughed and explained: “When we realized that an agent, especially a double O had a daughter, we had to do a background check on you. Nothing personal, just standard procedure.” The young witch nodded and she continued: “You can’t imagine how surprised we all were when we heard that 006 had survived and was saved, by his daughter no less from whom we didn’t know existed. Tell me, how did you do it?” She asked, a twinkle in her eyes.
The young girl squirmed and avoided eye contact. Eve stepped in front of her and smiled disarmingly at the other woman. “Sorry, it’s currently classified. We still don’t know everything and until it’s solved and we know how to handle it, everything is still supposed to be under lock.”
R looked disappointed but nodded. She knew how this all worked. Then she turned back to Mildred. “I’m sure you would love to have a look around, right?” Mildred nodded enthusiastically. But Eve shook her head.
“I’m sure Q would want to show you around personally. We wouldn’t want to take that away from him.” Mildred’s shoulders sagged in disappointment. “But I can show you the rest of MI6 and then I’m sure the others are done soon. I’m going to show you the training ground and then I think we should go back, okay?”
Mildred still looked disappointed at her and Eve sighed. “I’m pretty sure if I don’t bring you back soon, your father is going to send off a search party and would join them personally. And we really can’t afford that right now.”
That was what convinced her in the end. She sighed and smile din defeat and nodded. They said their good byes and Eve led her through the building to the training room.
In the end they stood in the shooting range and Eve grinned. “I would love to tell you to have a go at the weapons, but I’m pretty sure your father would like to do that personally and he would be pretty cross with me if I would take that away from him.”
In the end they made their way back to the medical ward and entered just in time. Mildred grinned brightly at her father, who looked at her in relief and joy. With trouble he sat up, grimacing as he did. Mildred’s smile fell and she crossed the room and helped him.
“You should lie down.” She scolded him but he only shook his head.
“No. I’ve been lying all day. And it’s getting on my nerves. I really want to stand up again.” He grumbled and continued to move.
“Did the doctor tell you that you’re allowed to move?” She asked with a frown.
Alec rolled his eyes. “I don’t need the permission of the old quacksalver.”
“Dad!” Mildred scolded and gave him a stern glare. Alec just averted his eyes and grumbled but laid back down.
Behind her a few people snickered. “That was the closest thing to a guilty conscience I’ve ever seen from him.” It was Mallory who gave them an amused stare.
“You’re right,” Tanner laughed, “We should bring her every time he lands here again.”
“Fortunately he’s the only one who has a conscious like that.” Bond added with an amused smile.
“Oh right,” Q glared at the blond agent, “You are of the opinion that the best medication is a bottle of Vodka, a package of morphine and a few naked women to roll in bed with.”
James threw him a scandalous glare. “Excuse me. That is not true.” He huffed in indignation, “It has to be a bottle of Scotch for it to be effective.”
Q only rolled his eyes and turned back to Mildred. “We’re done talking. I’m sure you two want to catch up a bit and I still have a lot of work to do. So we’re going to leave you two alone again.” He smiled. “We’ll see you later.”
And with that they all made their way outside until only the two off them were in the room.
Mildred sat down next to him and smiled. “How are you feeling?” She asked him. Alec sighed and stroked her lovingly over the head.
“Better since you’re here.” Mildred rolled her eyes.
“It’s true! Since you’re back here I feel really better. In fact I’m sure I could stand up and walk around again.”
Mildred threw him a mock glare. “Don’t you dare!”
The agent laughed. “Fine. It was worth a try. But it’s true though. I really feel better because you’re here with me. I normally don’t have someone waiting for me to wake up like that.” Mildred smiled softly at him and squeezed his hand.
“By the way, are you going to be alright when you go home?” She asked and Alec shrugged, then winced in pain.
“I think so. It’s not like they’re going to let me go home while I’m still wounded and they will give me a bunch of painkillers, so I think I’ll be fine.”
“I could help you.” Mildred suddenly said. The thought had been crossing her mind for a while now. She just didn’t know how and if she could say it out loud.
Alec smiled at her. “It’s fine. It’s not the first time I’m in this state and I’ve been fine before. Thanks for the thought though. Also, don’t you have school?”
At the Mildred winced and averted her eyes. The agents frowned at her. “Mildred?
The young girl shrugged. “I was thinking, I could go to a school in London. You know, not a boarding school but a normal one.”
Alec raised an eyebrow at her. “Do they even have normal magical schools in the country? Let alone London?”
Mildred fidgeted. “I was thinking of going to a normal school?”
At that Alec gaped at her. “Why would you want to go to a normal school?”
The girl shrugged but didn’t say anything.
Finally she sighed and explained, still not meeting his eyes. “I broke the witches’ code. Repeatedly. I left the school grounds, I used magic repeatedly and exposed myself to non-magical people. That’s a bunch of rules that I’ve broken. And Miss Hardbroom is not fond of me and has been trying to get rid of me since my first year. I mean, I’ve been on a trial basis my whole first year. I don’t have an influential magical family to bail me out of trouble and I think the Great Wizard doesn’t even like me. I’m sure I’m going to get expulsed for that when they find out and Cackle’s is the only school that had agreed to take me, a witch from a non-witching family. When they throw me out there’s not going to be another school that would take me. So it would be back to normal school again. Maybe they’ll even take my magic away. I’m not sure how, but I’ve seen it first-hand that it’s possible”
Alec gaped. Then he sat up, ignoring Mildred’s protest for him to lie back down and his own pain.
“Mildred! Why did you do that? You want to be a witch more than anything! Why would you just throw it away like that?”
Mildred looked back at him and shrugged.
“Because you’re more important to me than some stupid school and a stupid world with their rules or even my magic. I told you, didn’t I? I love you and I would do it again in a heartbeat. You’re more important to me than all the magic in the world.”
Alec was speechless. His eyes had gone soft and she could see a sheen of tears in them. In the end he only pulled her into a hug, pressing her close to him and only breathed.
“I love you, too, Mildred. So much and more than you know.”
Mildred returned the hug and in the end they laid together in his bed, cuddling and just enjoying each other’s warmth. She listened to his heartbeat, reassuring herself that it was strong and heavy in comparison to the weak one she had felt only yesterday, trying to keep him alive enough until help had arrived. It was strange, to her it felt like so long ago, when in fact it had just happened.
They then decided to change the subject and Mildred caught him up in all the strange adventures she had been in until now. To say Alec was angry and disappointed in the teacher when he heard how the teachers just let some other girls bully her by locking her up in her room without consequences and Mildred had almost been stuck as a bat because the same girls wanted to sabotage her friend and get her expelled while Mildred had to do her best to help her friend still in bat form. He was furious. And if she weren’t bound to the bed, he would probably have driven to the school and ripped them all a new one.
“You know, maybe a change of schools wouldn’t be so bad,” He grumbled in the end. Mildred only giggled.
They were interrupted by the nurse who brought them lunch and checked her father’s wounds and condition. Mildred and her dad were soon joined by Eve, Q and Tanner who wanted to know more of the magical world and they spent a pleasant meal together.
In the evening the agent was finally allowed to stand up and move around a bit, as Mildred learned to prevent blood cloths, and insisted on taking a bath. Since his wounds looked exceptionally well for his current condition, the doctors gave the permission with great reluctance.
Mildred had wanted to help, but her father had declined her offer, stating that he was still not that old that he would need help going to the bathroom.
So instead she had shoved the bed as close to him as possible so they were practically sharing one big bed. She had asked for new bed sheets and when the nurse offered to help her, she refused but thanked her profusely and proceeded to change the bloody and dirty sheets on her father’s bed. She hated even looking at all the blood, knowing that it was his and what could have happened had she not reacted like she did. So changing the sheets felt quite liberating.
As Mildred lay next to her father, she couldn’t help but smile. She was happy that he was alive and well and even though there was the niggling fear of expulsion, she couldn’t help the thought that it was all worth it in the end. In the protective arms of her father and listening to his heartbeat she fell asleep in seconds, feeling safer than she had in years.
In the morning Eve and Q were with her in the room eating breakfast and listening if her father needed help in the bathroom after all and passing the time while Mallory, Tanner and Bond came inside to speak to her father, when Mildred saw something peculiar in the window reflection behind Eve, who was still talking.
“Enid? Maud?” She asked in surprise as she saw her friends and all three of them turned around.
The two girls sighed in relief when they saw that Mildred had picked up.
“Mildred! How are you? Is everything alright?” Maud asked and Mildred beamed at them.
“Yes, I somehow made it. It was a close call though.” She knew the two would want more information and she promised herself to give them better answers. Just not now.
“Who are these two ladies?” Mildred asked and turned her smile from her to them, while Q and Bond mustered the window with great interest.
“Oh. Sorry. These are my best friends. Maud Spellbody and Enid Nightshade.” She introduced them and then turned to the two in the window. “And this is Mr. Mallory, Miss Moneypenny, Mr Tanner and Mr. Q and Mr Bond. They work with my dad.”
The two girls waved and greeted them and were greeted back in smiles.
“Speaking of your dad, where is he?” Enid asked, just as the room to the bathroom opened and he came out, holding himself on the walls, but already looking way better than he did yesterday.
“There he is,” Mildred replied and threw her father a grin, who gave back a confused stare until she motioned to the window reflection and his eyes lit up in understanding. She introduced them to each other.
“So you’re Maud and Enid. Mildred has told me a lot about you two.” He smiled widely at them. “Thanks for always taking care of her. I know she’s a handful.”
The two girls blushed and nodded. “Oh, Mildred takes just as much care of us.” Maud returned the compliment.
Mildred grinned and turned back to her friends. “Anyway, what’s the situation? Did something happen?”
The girls’ grins vanished and they threw her a concerned look. In the end it was Maud who spoke up. “We know that you just got reunited with your dad and that you’re worried and all, but … well …”
“You need to come back. As fast as possible.” Enid interrupted her, giving Mildred an imploringly stare.
Mildred immediately grew worried. “Why? Did something happen?”
Maud shook her head. “No. We’ve been able to cover for you on Friday in Spell-Science and yesterday because it was Saturday, but Miss Hardbroom is starting to get suspicious.”
“And you know Ethel. She’s also getting suspicious and if she finds out that you’re gone from the school grounds, she will stop at nothing to get you expelled. So you have to come back.” Enid added.
Mildred frowned. “What exactly did you tell them while I was away?”
Maud answered: “We told them that you got a nasty case of thewitching flu and that you quarantined yourself in your room to avoid accidently infecting others. We put a few spells on your bed to make it look like it was you underneath it every time someone looks inside. But it only works if you don’t look too closely. And we think that Ethel will try to break into your room soon to get proof that it really isn’t you under there.”
Mildred’s face fell. She turned to her father, who in the end sighed and smiled at her reassuringly. “They are right. You should go back. If you’re not discovered yet, you still have a chance to stay. Don’t worry about me.”
Mildred sighed but nodded. She turned to her friends on the window.
“Okay,” She said, smiling at them. “I’m coming back today.”