Mildred was a girl on a mission. The scary encounter she had in Calais had woken her up and she realized that she couldn’t stay as she was. She knew that she would probably be useless in a fight, but the thought of not being able to help her father or anyone else who was important to her was scary.
So she started to look into healing spells and potions and spend a good portion of her free time pouring over books in the library. Enid and Maud understood where she came from and even joined her on occasion. It was easier to study with friends than to do it alone.
So the next weeks they spent in peace, knowing that everything was alright and that she didn’t need to worry about her father getting hurt as he was still in mandatory downtime while he recovered. As it was, she spent a lot of time talking to him and making sure that he was recovering and not straining himself.
It was funny, because Eve and Mr. Q had decided to make it a habit to call her if her father started to ignore his doctor’s advice and do way more than what was good for him. He didn’t like it one bit that his own daughter was used as blackmail material to keep him subdued, but they both countered with how it was necessary and how it was for his own good. Mildred agreed wholeheartedly, what led to a bit of outrage and her father insisting that the two were turning her against him.
Mildred, Maud and Enid enjoyed the good natured bickering they often saw when the two called her again and they were treated to another discussion.
Unfortunately life at Cackle’s continued and it did not look good. At first there was the scary encounter in the old forest Hollow Wood where they had to gather potions ingredients under the supervision of their art teacher Miss Mould because of an incident that morning in potions and some of the ingredients could only be found in the enchanted forest. It ended with everyone put into a trance except for Mildred and Maud and they had to find a way to save their group. Her father had been livid after he had found out that she was sent into such a dangerous place as punishment and it took a lot of work and calming down and the help of Eve and Mr. Q, who she had to have long discussions with, until they finally relented and went to her side, to prevent her father from getting into the next car and driving to Cackle’s to get her out of school and back to him to London where she would be save. Her dad had been so angry at the school for allowing something like this to happen.
After a few interesting days training for Miss Cackle’s birthday surprise, with a small interruption of Maud getting turned into a baby, a story her dad found rather amusing actually, probably because it did not involve Mildred being in danger, the girls found out that their headmistress was to be suspended because the council was of the opinion that she did not do her job correctly.
The trio’s trip to the magic council turned out to be futile and ended with Mrs. Hallow procuring a document, stating that a lot of parent’s didn’t see her fit to lead the school anymore. Even though Mildred had spoken up in her defence, it had been a useless affair and ended with their headmistress getting suspended.
When she later told her father what had happened, he had not been happy. Not because she spoke out, but because she had sneaked out of the school again in which anything could have happened to her. Mildred defended her decision, but her father had been stern.
“You practically infiltrated a government building without knowledge of its ground, interior, personnel and worst of all, without knowing of the security the building has. Do you know how it could have ended? Imagine if you were seen and the guards would have labelled you as threats. I know you meant good, but you can never go into such an operation without proper preparation.” He explained and Mildred felt the first seeds of guilt since the beginning of their conversation in their evening video call. Alec was finally back at home and lounging in sweatpants and a wide shirt on his couch with a drink in his hand. Mildred was sure that the glass did not contain water and she was a tad worried because she was sure that he still had to take his painkillers. But at least he could walk and move without too much problems.
“I know it was reckless, but I just couldn’t stand by and do nothing. And it’s not like this is some sort of high security facility where you can only go in with ten security checks. So I doubt it would have been that bad.” She tried to justify her actions, but she knew already that her father would not be agreeing with her. And just as she suspected, he shook his head.
“No Mildred. Trust me in this when I say that it could have ended very badly for you. I’ve been in this game long enough already and I know that even if your magical government is really that stupid you also had a lot of dumb luck. Every government building I ever had to enter had been heavily guarded with security, seen or not. But they were there. Maybe you were lucky and they recognized you as students and thus decided that you were harmless. Otherwise I can’t really explain the lack of action. But it was still a close call and don’t try to tell me otherwise. I know how stuff like that normally goes. I’ve infiltrated and been in these situations often enough.” Alec countered and Mildred squirmed.
In the end she sighed. “I know it was stupid, but we just had to do something. We had been worried and if there was something we would have been able to do we wanted to do it. Even if it was stupid.”
The agent sighed but smiled. “You always just mean well. But you really have to start to think things through. You can’t always just head in without a plan and just hope for the best.” His smile turned bitter. “That’s what gets many of us killed. We’re too confident and don’t think things through. And paired with bad intel and bad luck and it’s going to be our last mission.”
Mildred looked away. She knew why her father was making these comparisons, but every time he talked about the high mortality rate of agents, she felt uncomfortable because she was again reminded of how she had almost lost him. Even after over a week it did not get any easier.
“I know.” She mumbled. “I’m sorry. I try to think of a better plan next time.”
Alec smiled at her. “That’s all I can ask of you, really.”
A few days later Miss Pentangle came to visit the school and tried to teach them a little bit of modern magic. In Mildred’s opinion it was really fun and useful and she had always liked her.
Miss Pentangle had enhanced her magic for the day and that had helped her to one up Ethel, who had been mouthing off on her again. But Mildred had also forgotten it and messed up when she had tried to help.
She had realised that the petition, which was allegedly signed by all parents who were against Miss Cackle’s leadership, had been faked and tried to prove it. By doing so she had forgotten that her magic had been enhanced and had used the old way to prove her headmistress’s innocence. Unfortunately it hadn’t work out and she had burned the petition.
Dejected she had called her dad and he spent a while to calm her down and encourage her to not give up that easily.
“There’s always a way to prove if something was forged. You just have to find it. Is there no one who could help you? Maybe one of the teachers? Granted, I’m not a big fan of them myself from what I heard, but I like to think that they would like their headmistress to stay at the school and they would work with you, don’t they?”
Mildred had shaken her head. “I wish. But Miss Hardbroom hates me and the other teachers won’t be of much help. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore.”
But Alec had only smiled at her. “Think. Maybe they are not really the person you normally get the opportunity to ask for. I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
In the end her father had been right and she went to Miss Pentangle, asking her for help.
And it proved just right, because with her help they really had been able to prove that the document had been forged and that all the names should have never been on the document.
As it turned out, it was Mrs. Hallow who had been the one to create it and falsify every sign on it. When confronted as to why, it turned out that she did it out of pure revenge for her daughter Esmeralda, the nice big sister of Ethel.
At the end of last year her daughter had lost her magic because of a plot of Agatha, Miss Cackle’s twin sister, and now Mrs. Hallow blamed the headmistress for her now non-magical child who was supposed to be her heir.
In the end the Great Wizard reinstated Miss Cackle back as headmistress and removed the Hallow parents from the magical council.
Mildred was happy. She realized that Ethel was not and she blamed her for everything but honestly? She didn’t care. That girl would probably blame her for burning her tongue on hot soup if possible. She was strange like that.
Miss Pentangle left the school after that, stating that it could not be in better hands and Mildred and all her friends agreed.
In the end that problem got solved and her father had been proud but also smug with her, stating that he had always know that she would have been able to think of something.
“You aren’t my daughter for nothing.” He had proudly exclaimed and Mildred beamed at him. Yet, he was still sighing and when Mildred asked what was wrong he had just shook his head.
“I don’t like you being there so defenceless. Anything could happen and you would have no chance to save yourself. There had been so many instances where you could have been hurt and from what you told me of your teachers, I wouldn’t trust them with a cactus, let alone your life. I know you told me that you could take care of yourself, but I just can’t help but wonder. You do not have any military training, no weapons training and never learned how to fight if it comes down to it. Does this school really have enough resources and capabilities to take care of you? Can they really protect you? If it were up to me, you would be here in London at a school I would have vetted thoroughly or at least one close to your mother, where I could do the same. But instead you are at a school we have absolutely not access to and I just worry.” He explained and Mildred smiled sadly.
“I know you’re worried and I think it’s sweet. But you really don’t have to worry that much. There were a couple hard weeks, but we’re fine now. You really don’t have to come in guns blazing and play the knight in shining armour. We witches really can take care of ourselves. I promise.” She tried to placate him, but she realized that it did nothing to calm him down. At least he dropped the topic for the evening and Mildred was fast to change it, in hopes of ignoring it for a bit longer. And Mildred really hoped that it would be calm two weeks until parents’ day where nothing would happen so her father’s temper could calm itself and he wouldn’t arrive, ready to blow things up. She could only hope.