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A Witch's Journal

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Akko dropped into a large comfortable chair, her books spilling across her lap, as she tilted her head back and groaned. Her day had been terrible, starting with sleeping in so late that she had to scoop up her books in a hurry, cramming a baked potato in her mouth as she tried to get to class on time in order to avoid another detention. The day hadn’t gotten much better after that, with a mix up during her presentation in magical history leading to her having to do extra work to make up the grade and two of the witches from the blue team laughing at her during potions class and throwing snide remarks at her.

Studying at Luna Nova, Akko decided, was much different from how she imagined. She hadn’t made any progress with figuring out any of the other 7 words and was no closer to finding Chariot. She started to arrange her books, searching around for her notebook, groaning when she realized that she had left it in her room, banging her head back against the book shelf in annoyance.

A thud rang out as a few books slipped off the shelf, landing next to the chair, Akko mumbling to herself as she leaned over to clean up the mess. Her grumbling about the day ceased as she pulled a leather bound book from the small pile, tilting her head as she examined it. There was no title on the cover, and thumbing through the book quickly she couldn’t see any writing on it. The pile of books forgotten she started to inspect it closely. The book was very pristine, secured with a small buckle on the front. Why would the pages be empty, Akko thought, flipping to the front of the book, her eyes drawn to the only writing she had seen in the book, small printed letters reading D.C.

“Huh,” she said, looking around at the shelves, seeing if anyone was around, “since when have you been here.” Akko briefly remembered her notebook-less plight, looking around as she pulled out her pen. “Well can’t let this go to waste.” She started to take notes, trying to push through her tiredness to copy down potions ingredients. She grumbled to herself as she wrote, forcing herself to get down a whole page of notes on an invisibility potion, covering the whole page with notes and suggestions that Sucy had told her during class. She sighed, finishing up her last sentence as she pumped her fist in celebration.

She looked back down and her mouth went slack in shock, the page that she had just filled with notes was empty, her hard work gone. “No, no.” She said, flipping through the book frantically, “where are my notes?” With her question the page she was on filled back up with her notes, several ingredients and notes that she had underlined in red.

Akko’s eyes sparkled as she looked at the notebook, “wow,” she said softly, “You’re a magic notebook.” She flipped through the pages, trying to figure out if there was anything written inside, feeling more excited as she tried to find anything else. The rest of the notebook was empty, the only thing on it the page of notes that Akko took, still with words underlined or circled in red. She turned back towards her potions textbook, squinting as she noticed that all of the underlined words had spelling mistakes in them, or she had gotten the amount slightly wrong. “Wow…” she breathed out again.

Unable to contain her excitement she pumped her fist in the air, unable to contain a squeal of joy as she looked around the library furtively, leaning in to whisper to the book, “Can you understand me?”

She leaned back, watching for any sign to show up on the blank page, trying not to blink for any sign of anything to show up. She held her breath for minutes waiting for any sign of an answer to show up. When nothing happened she sighed, her shoulders slumping forward. “I guess not as magical as I thought, but I’m still going to take you okay. It must suck being cooped up all alone in this library with no one around, magic book or not.” She said with finality, packing up her bag and slipping the new journal inside. She dragged herself off towards her dorm, unable to stop a yawn overwhelming her as she barely made it to her bunk, letting her bag fall to the ground as a few books spilled out. Akko was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow, oblivious to the fact that the journal had landed on the ground, the force of the drop opening it up, revealing a page with small printed words in neat handwriting in one corner.

'Yes. I can hear you. Thank you.'

Potions class. Nothing ever went right in potions class, Akko thought, its probably cursed. She looked over to one side, seeing Sucy bent over a cauldron that was billowing out a deep red color smoke, Professor Ludik joining her as they both seemed much too excited with what was brewing within and the bellowing smoke. Akko sighed, looking back to her notes, triple checking that she had all of the ingredients right. A crash over by Lotte distracted her, turning aside from her desk and rushing over to see if she could help her friend.

While she was distracted two girls moved over to Akko’s desk, whispering as they bent over her notebook. One waved their wand over the page and the words began to rearrange themselves, spelling out new ingredients as the two could barley hold back laughter over the pages. One nudged another and they raced back towards their deck, watching as Akko walked back, both laughing and waiting for her to follow the new instructions.

Right before Akko was about to sit down and refocus on her potion the page shimmered, the notes instantly rewriting in the flash second before Akko turned back to her list. Akko re-read her notes, letting out a small huh, “guess I missed a few things,” she said to herself, tossing a few extra things into her cauldron. The saboteurs held their breath, waiting for the potion to spew noxious fumes. A few seconds went by before a pleasant smelling green smoke wafted up from the cauldron, Professor Ludik walking by and stopping by the Japanese students bench.

“Good work,” she said with a brief nod, continuing to walk past and stopping by Hannah and Barbara’s desk. Her nose curled as the two young witches suddenly realized that their cauldron was spitting out large droplets that were causing anything that it hit to smoke. The two witches paled as they frantically tried to clean up anything in their area.

Oblivious to the chaos happening behind her Akko was basking in the glow of getting praise from a professor, reaching over to give her notebook a light pat, “You're my new good luck charm,” she said, turning back to her potion as she smiled to herself.

Those words would turn out to be prophetic, as Akko seemed to breeze through the next two weeks. Her grades seemed to be improving, and even though she kept getting into trouble, some of her professors were starting to give her more credit. She had figured out one of the seven words and was closer than ever to finding Chariot. Yes Akko was riding on a cloud of success, right up until the first day of flight practice.

Akko pushed through the door of her dorm, her uniform covered in mud from her several unsuccessful attempts to fly. She sighed as she fell back into her chair, looking over towards her desk which still had her homework open. She put her head down on the desk and let out a low groan.

“Why can’t I fly,’ she said glumly, her mood clearly low from an afternoon of failures. She felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes, the stress of the day getting to her, “I mean I know that I wasn’t born a witch, but I’m learning. Everyone else got to learn magic from when they were a kid, I just got here.” She said, starting to rant as she let out all of her troubles to the empty room.

“I just want to be like Chariot, I want everyone to look at magic and be happy, not be constantly looking at books and talking about being proper with magic. Magic is supposed to be fun and you are supposed to love magic, but everyone here just doesn’t like that, or Chariot.” She sighed, idly flipping through her notes while she thought, “I just want to be a great witch.”

With another sigh Akko moved to close her book, hoping that a night of sleep would help clear her mind, when she saw something move on one of the notebook pages, flipping the book back open and watching as writing started to appear at the top of a page.

'I think you are already a great witch Atsuko.'

A small smile appeared on Akko’s face after she read the words on the page, placing the notebook back on her desk. “Aw thank you book, that was really nice of you.” She said getting up and walking towards her bed before she froze. She spun around so fast that she almost fell down, her mouth open in shock as she scrambled back towards her desk, slamming both hands down on the wood, “You can talk!” she yelled.

She held her breath, hoping that what she saw wasn’t just her mind playing tricks on her, after a moment the previous words reappeared and new ones started to appear underneath it.

‘Yes I can speak, and hear you, my apologies for not speaking up sooner, but you seemed so down and not yourself’ the book wrote.

Akko’s face softened into a smile, taking a seat and propping up the book so that she could see it, “Thanks,” she said softly, “I needed that.” She paused for a moment before a look of realization flashed across her face, “Wait you’ve been helping me with my homework haven’t you.”

‘I have, but only for minor mistakes, I did not want to do it for you.’ The book wrote.

“Thank you anyway, it really helped,” Akko said, “But how can you talk, can you understand everything outside your book, are you a person, what should I call you because I don’t think I should just keep calling you book.” The words spilled out of Akko’s mouth, the excitement of finding something magical overwhelming her previous negativity.

There was a pause for a moment, before the words started to flow across the page again, ‘I can hear everything from outside the book but I cannot see, and I know everything that was written down in the book.’ There was a longer pause, almost as if the book was hesitant to continue. ‘I used to be a person, before I got caught in this book. My name..’ The ink trailed off at that, Akko waiting on baited breath for the book to continue.

‘My name is Diana Cavendish.’

“It’s nice to finally meet you Diana,” Akko said, putting forward her hand before taking it back and rubbing the back of her neck, “Heh, I guess you can’t shake hands.”

‘I cannot,’ Diana said, ‘however, It is nice for someone to treat me like a human again.’

The response sobered Akko, her mind turning the facts over in her head. “How long have you been stuck in a book,” she said hesitantly.

The pause this time is long, Akko almost telling Diana that it was okay to drop it before the words started to appear again. ‘I.. I can’t remember. It has been too long, and I stopped counting days, for a while I was able to attend classes, but then I was lost. I did no think that anyone would find me again.’

A motivated look overtook Akko’s face, inwardly her heart ached for this poor girl who had been stuck in there for that long, “I’m going to get you out of that book.” She said determinedly, nodding to herself, “I promise you that.”

‘Thank you.’ The words stayed on the page as the previous writing faded, Akko giving a small grin at Diana.

“I guess you must be pretty tired huh,” she said, unable to stifle her own yawn, “Me too. Tomorrow we can go to the library, and Professor Ursula, she always helps me out.” She smiled as she started to get up from desk, noticing that nothing else appeared on the page.

“A bit shy huh,” she said, gently setting down the book as she started to get ready for bed, throwing her muddy uniform into the laundry bin as she settled down into her bunk, “That’s fine we can talk tomorrow when we are looking for a cure.”

The room fell silent for a while, Akko slowly drifting off to sleep. As her eyes blinked slowly to stay away she let out a large yawn, “Hey Diana,” she said sleepily, “Thanks for telling me everything.” Silence followed her words as she fell asleep.

The book was left open on the desk, the words left on the page slowly disappearing, leaving a calm blank page that masked the inner turmoil that Diana was feeling. Her mind was racing and she felt like if she had lungs she would be hyperventilating, her mind shakily jumping from thought to thought. Someone was actually offering to help her, she thought, a sliver of hope worming its way into her chest. A small dark part of her pushed back, reminding her that she had been alone for so long, that no one else who had found her had wanted to help, even those who figured out who she was. Diana cringed internally, trying to wrestle through her thoughts, hoping to herself that Atsuko would be different.

The sound of her roommates moving around the room woke Akko up, blearily stirring from sleep as it took a few minutes for the events of last night to set in, she had met a new friend, and had discovered more magic at Luna Nova. She rolled out of bed and bounced up, greeting her roommates, Sucy giving a curt nod from her desk, hovering over her mushrooms, and Lotte giving a cheery good morning from her perch on her bunk, already half absorbed in her book.

Akko seemed to pause for a moment, remembering that today she had a mission, bursting into action as she pulled on her uniform, barely stopping to tie her hair up before grabbing her book bag from the desk before lifting up Diana’s book.

“Good morning,” she repeated again, her roommates turning towards her quizzically, Akko looking back at the two of them with a cheery smile, “We are gonna be in the library, we’ve got a puzzle to solve.” She said, grabbing the Shiny Rod as she bolted out the door, Lotte and Sucy meeting eyes afterwords.

“We?” Lotte said, looking at Sucy for answers. The purple haired witch just shrugged her shoulders, turning back to her desk as she passed it off as Akko being Akko.

Striding confidently into the library Akko made her way towards the the filing system, a huge corridor with boxes of calling cards on them. Propping Diana’s book up on one of the shelves she turned towards the book.

“Okay,” she whispered, “I had to sort through all of these for detention once so I know how to find stuff in here. We just have to figure out what we are looking for.”

‘Well we could start by looking for curses, or accounts of people trapped in objects’ Diana said.

“Okay good idea,” Akko said, starting to pull over a ladder and looking up trying to find the right box. “But what about you.”

‘What do you mean about me?’ Diana said, the writing slow and almost hesitant across the page.

“If we look for your name or anything you can remember we can try to figure out who did this to you and maybe we can find them.” Akko leaned the ladder against the hallway, leaning on it as she turned towards Diana. “Wait do you know who cursed you?”

Writing started to appear on the page, words getting struck out and rewritten before the words took shape, ‘I am not certain. I have an idea but I cannot tell for sure.’

Akko frowned as she started to climb the ladder, moving over to a few of the boxes as she started to rifle through small folders, pulling two out of nearby boxes as she slid back down to a stop by Diana. She propped up Diana’s book against a bookend she put the two folders down, the neat labels on them reading; Curses, objects and Cavendish.

Flipping open the folder labeled with Diana’s family name Akko looked over the titles, listed down on the page, muttering to herself before she turned to Diana, “What book do you think would work the best Diana?”

‘I am not sure’ Diana said, a small pause before she continued, ‘Could you read the titles to me and I might know.’

“Oh right, heh, I forgot that you couldn’t see anything, sorry.” Akko said abashed, clearing her throat as she started to go down the list, reading off books about Beatrix Cavendish, the nine old witches, and magical healing before she stopped on one. “Oh, a history of the families of the nine old witches. That should work.” She said, copying down the information into the journal, pausing for a moment as the information sunk into the page and disappeared, realizing that she had been writing down her school notes and doodles in a living book.

“Um Diana,” she said, fiddling with her quill.

‘Yes Atsuko?’

“Should I be writing in you? Since you are a person, kinda, but also a book. I don’t know what to do about that.” Akko said, shuffling from foot to foot. “Also you can call me Akko, everyone does.”

‘I would like it if you kept taking notes with this book.’ Diana wrote, ‘I quite like learning all of the new things and classes. I am quite enjoying your notes on aquatic language.’

“Oh good,” Akko let out a sigh of relief, moving over to the other folder as she wrote down a few locations of books on curses, “You have been a super helpful study partner.”

‘I am glad to be studying magic again.’ Diana said, ‘It has been a while and I want to keep my knowledge up to date if, or when I get my body back.’

Closing the folders Akko turned and looked at Diana, not bothering to clean up as she reached out and took the book, staring into the open pages, “We will get your body back Diana, I promise. Now come on,” she said, her determined look curling into a smile, “We have books to read.” She held her hand up in victory, pausing for a moment as she posed, getting no reaction from her new friend.

“Yeah I didn’t feel that either.” She said after a few moments, dropping her pose.

‘It was a good attempt Akko.’ Diana said, the Japanese witch letting out a giggle as she started walking into the rest of the library, asking Diana to pull up the information on where the books were as they traveled the rows of shelves, eventually leading to Akko precariously balancing a large stack of books by the time that she reached one of the large back tables, putting the stack down and shaking out the strain from her arms.

“Whew,” she said, sitting down and re-propping up the book, pulling over the dark green book labeled The Nine Old Witches: A Family History. “Okay, now we see what we can find in here.” She flipped over towards the back of the book, skimming through the index as she mumbled the names.

“Found it!” she stage whispered, making one of the witches at a nearby table turn and give her a dirty glare, “Sorry, sorry.” She waved apologetically,. “Okay I think I found something,” she said flipping through the pages before she landed on the page she was looking for, a section on the modern history of Beatrix’s ancestors. “I’ll read this aloud,” she said starting in on the paragraph at the top of the page.

“At the turn of the century the Cavendish household experienced to tragedies back to back. Firstly the death of the family matriarch Bernadette Cavendish during the start of the Spanish flu epidemic in 1917, sending the household succession into chaos. Eight years later her only daughter Diana Cavendish vanished from Luna Nova, search parties sent out to try to find the young Cavendish returned unsuccessful. The Cavendish line was survived by Daryl Cavendish..” Akko trailed off, staring at Diana in shock.

Silence fell over both of them before she hesitantly started back up, “That would mean you got cursed in 1925.” She said, leaning back and letting the history book fall closed.

‘How long Akko?’ Diana said, the silence continuing after her question, the writing frantically picking up again. ‘How long has it been, I need to know.’

Akko put her head down, staring forlornly at Diana before whispering out her answer, “95 years..” She said. A long silence overtook the table, Akko idly flipping through some of the books that she had stacked around her. Her head kept looking back at Diana, waiting for words to appear on the page, each minute of silence causing her to fidget more in place.

Right before she was about to speak up and try to comfort the girl she noticed words starting to slowly write themselves, Diana seeming very slow and hesitant, like she was thinking about every word. ‘That is… longer than I had expected to be honest. Does the book have any other information about Daryl?’

“Diana are you sure you are okay?” Akko asked, “Cause I mean that’s a lot to learn in…” Akko trailed off as she saw words rapidly appear on the pages.

‘Just tell me’

‘Please’

Unable to refuse Akko turned back down towards the book, slowly looking it over as she looked at the following paragraphs, clearing her throat before starting to read again, “After years of mismanaging the estate, Daryl Cavendish was forced to relinquish everything to the historical preservation society, who bought Beatrix Cavendish’s estate.”

Akko glanced furtively over at Diana, trying to focus on reading the information but continuously checking to make sure that she was doing okay, she didn’t want to cause her new friend too much stress just a day after meeting her. She sat in silence, waiting for a response as she tried to distract herself, even pulling out her phone for a bit, growing concerned as an hour passed with no words appearing.

“I guess it’s a lot to take in,” she said, trying to keep the mood up, “But we can fix it, I have the Shiny Rod, and Chariot always said that you can do anything that you believe in, and I know everyone would want to help you too, we can ask Lotte or Sucy or Professor Ursula.” Akko said, trying to cheer up Diana.

Inside of the journal Diana tried her best to push down her emotions, waves of sadness hitting her as she realized how long it had been and how much had changed. Almost one hundred years, she thought, fighting against the urge to give in to her emotions and break down. Later, she scolded herself, later.

‘I have heard you mention this Chariot multiple times, Is she a powerful witch.’ Diana wrote. There, she thought, safe topic, just push everything away for now.

“Chariot is the best witch,” Akko yelled, forgetting that they were still in the library as she received a glare from the librarian at the front desk, shrinking down into her seat. “Chariot is amazing,” she whispered, making sure that she controlled her voice, “She made magic look so easy, so free. I knew that I was going to be a witch when I saw her magic show, she just had this way of making everything look so wonderful.”

Diana focused on the sound of Akko’s voice, her excited rambling helping her calm down as she found her thoughts slowing down as she listened.

“One of the reasons I came to Luna Nova was to try to find Chariot,” Akko’s voice softened, “it’s my mission to try to bring magic back to the world, and tell Chariot how much she has done for me.”

‘Do you often go around picking up quests?’ Diana wrote.

Akko rubbed the back of her neck, “It’s kinda my thing, see someone who needs magic and help them out.” She said sheepishly. “And you don’t deserve to be stuck inside of a book, so if we can figure out how to get you out then I will help.” She said smiling, inside hoping that this would be her chance for her to learn more magic.

‘Well then Akko,’ Diana said, feeling a spark of hope, ‘We have books to read.’

Unable to hold back a snort of laughter Akko gave a mock salute and grabbed the first book from the pile, “See that sounds better when you say it.”

Chapter Text

“I don’t see why it’s worth detention though,” Akko said, walking down the hall. She had Diana’s journal open in one hand as she wildly gestured with her other. “All I wanted to do was make sure the school faeries got an easier workload, Lotte told me that they were complaining about not being able to have any free time.”

‘That is very noble of you Akko,’ Diana wrote, Akko now used to the art of reading while walking, ‘However I doubt that trying to do all of the school’s laundry at the same time was a productive way to help the school staff.’ The words printed large on the page in order to help Akko see, Diana still worrying about the possibility of the Japanese girl tripping and falling.

One thing that Diana had learned over the past week of being declared Akko’s friend was that Akko was almost supernaturally clumsy, if there was a way for her to trip into trouble she would find it. The past week had been almost an overwhelming adventure. Since Diana had spoken to Akko the energetic witch made it her mission to try to figure out how to fix Diana’s curse, meanwhile dragging her along into every class and scheme. Diana would not admit it out loud, but it was refreshing, to finally be treated as if she were still a witch.

The two witches reached the basement, Akko opening the door and groaning at the sight of a room full of magic mirrors, a bucket and pile of rags left in the middle of the room. “This always takes so long.” She sighed, moving over towards the mirrors and propping Diana’s book up against the closest mirrors and grabbing a rag to start to wipe down the mirrors.

‘Have you done this before?’ Diana asked.

“Yeah,” Akko answered, starting in on the nearest clump of mirrors that were stacked against the wall, “I got detention when I first got here because I missed orientation and then opened a portal right into the auditorium.”

‘You missed the head-teachers first speech? Why?’

Akko smiled and regaled Diana her story of a mad dash through the woods, taking pauses to explain some of the modern terms, trying to keep the conversation from straying too far from the topic at the very beginning, loosing control of the discussion as it turned into a detailed explanation of how cell phones could exist.

“Look I’ll have to show you one someti..” Akko felt herself growing silent as she moved aside one of the bulkier mirrors, revealing a tall skinny mirror that was propped up against the wall. She reached out to touch it, making contact with the cold surface.

“I must confess I am quite eager to discover what was invented in the past decades, the world seems so different from the few things I’ve heard.” The voice rang clear through the room, Akko stunned as she looked at the image shown in the mirror.

There was a girl with her back turned standing in the room with Akko, standing right above Diana’s journal. Akko whipped her head back, starting at an empty room, and then looking back into the the mirror.

“Atsuko?” The voice said, the girl turning around. Akko let out a small gasp as she took in the girl in the mirror. She was taller than Akko, but looked around the same age, with long blond hair and bright blue eyes that seemed to rivet the Japanese witch in place. The mystery girl had on a variation of the school uniform, the normal dress changed out for a high collared dress shirt complete with a blue tie that matched her eyes. Her skirt was much longer than Akko’s, the end reaching down to her mid calf, and she had a belt on that included a few small loops on which a wand hung as well as a few small vials.

“Akko?” the girl said before she froze, her hands moving up to her mouth, shakily starting to walk over towards the mirror until she was right in front of it, staring directly at Akko’s hand that was pressed up against the mirror. “Is..” She started, Akko noticing that her voice was scratchy, but still melodic, “Is that you.”

“Diana?” Akko said, piecing together that this girl seemed to know who she was and was responding to her, her mind in caught in a loop of shock. Diana nodded frantically, Akko noticing that there were tears gathering at the corner of her eyes. “Are you alright,” she asked.

Diana shrugged and gave a half smile, “How?” she said, “What is this mirror.”

Tearing her eyes away from the blond girl Akko squinted at the writing around the edges of the mirror, “I don’t know, but there is letters around the outside I just cant read it, it looks like little moons.”

“Old script, Diana rattled off instantly, tapping her foot on the ground, “I know it but I cant seem to see from my book, only from this mirror, write down what you see maybe I can translate.”

Nodding Akko started to copy down the symbols written around the mirror, glancing back at Diana to notice that she had her head cocked the side as her eyes went milky white as the words Akko wrote disappeared, reappearing as English. She tried to focus on her task but felt herself distracted, wanting to look at Diana more, inwardly chastising herself for the weird feeling. Come on Akko, she thought, focus.

“Okay that is the last of it,” Akko said standing back up and looking down at the book, the last bits of runes she inscribed vanishing to reappear as legible words.

‘Let me reflect what is unseen, no secrets can hide, lay all curses bare before me.’ The words said, written out three times on the paper before her.

“It must be able to reflect spirits,” Diana mumbled, her eyes normal again but lost in thought. “And since I technically am without a body it must count me as a spirit.” She said, tapping her finger on her chin as she paced slightly.

Akko couldn’t contain a giggle, Diana quickly turning and looking at her. “It’s just,” Akko said through giggles, “I was right you really are someone who would be excited when a quest needs a lot of reading.”

A slight flush overtook Diana’s face, Akko shook out of her laughter as she had the sudden realization of how pretty Diana looked while laughing. Okay let’s think about that later, Akko told herself, before she had another realization.

“Wait why can I hear you.”

Diana blinked a few times, stunned again, “Perhaps it was part of the spell put on the mirror.” She said, “Even so, I am glad that you can. It has been a very long time since I have heard my voice, or seen anything at all.”

Dropping down to the floor in front of the mirror Akko sat down, Diana following, as they sat and stared at each other. “I think..” Diana’s voice cut through the silence, Akko giving her a small smile as she slowly started to speak, “I think I can tell you what happened to me now.” Diana said, the girl looking down at the floor.

“You don’t have to,” Akko hurriedly said, “I don’t want you to feel like you have to do something you are uncomfortable with, I know I was asking a lot this week, but It’s okay.”

“No I want to,” Diana said, “I need to tell someone.”

She took a deep breath, looking at Akko and steeling herself as she started talking. “I guess it started when I went away to Luna Nova, or maybe it was even before then, when my mother…” she trailed off, Akko moving forward and putting a hand on the glass of the mirror, Diana’s lips quirking up slightly before she continued.

“The Cavendish house was always a place of healing, when the great war happened we took people in, we helped where we could, but it wore my mother down. When the flu hit a few years later she couldn’t make it, and I tried to step forward to take her place, my aunt didn’t like that. Then I made a mistake, I went to Luna Nova.”

Diana had a sad smile on her face, taking out her wand and slowly turning it over in her hands, “I always loved magic, and wanted to be just like my mother, I wanted to help people. So I decided that I would do exactly like her and go to Luna Nova, I would study to become a great witch and bring magic and life back to the world. But when I left home my aunt took over in my place.”

“It was not too bad at first, I got to study magic, and I loved being here at Luna Nova. Then one night I got a letter from the head maid, telling me to come back to the house quickly. So I left, and when I returned home I found my aunt trying to sell the family relics, and when I confronted her she told me that if I wanted to run the house then I would have to agree to the marriage that she arranged for me.’

“I snapped. I yelled at her, and told her…” Diana stopped, putting a hand over her mouth as her eyes swam with tears, “Well it really has no bearing what I said. I went up to my room and started to prepare to take over the family, like I should have done years prior. When I was half asleep Daryl broke in, she,” a choking sob overtook Diana, as she breathed deeply trying to calm herself.

“It’s okay,” Akko cut in, “You don’t have to continue, I think I know what happened.” She said with a frown on her face.

“No, no.” Diana looked back up, “I need to finish.” She sighed deeply before gathering the strength to continue, “She paralyzed me with her familiar, and then she trapped me in this book. It took me a while before I came back to myself, and even then I could not do much more than hear scraps of conversation from outside. Eventually someone moved me, and I found myself in Luna Nova again,” she grinned ruefully, “They must have moved most of my families books to Luna Nova after Daryl ruined the family. So I sat in the library, once or twice someone found me, and even for a while I got to attend classes, and even once I told someone who I was.”

“That was another mistake, they said they would help, but when it came time to leave Luna Nova she left me behind, just like everyone else. So I waited, and slept, until you found me.” Diana finished, gripping onto her wand like it was a life line, staring into her lap.

“I’m sorry.” Akko said, Diana looking up at her, “No one deserves that, but we can figure it out. I always wanted to be a witch, and even though I have trouble doing magic, I still made it here. If I can do that, and figure out how to awaken the Shiny Rod, then we can definitely break the curse.”

The two witches sat in silence, both of them with small smiles on their faces. “Akko,” Diana said, “Would you mind bringing me back down here some time, it is nice to see again, and hear my own voice.” Diana said with a sad look on her face.

Akko looked at the sad look on the blond witches face, about to respond with a hearty yes, and offer to get into detention more often for her when she had an idea. “What if,” she started, smiling wide as her brain ran with the crazy idea that she had, “What if we took the mirror with us.”

“How,” Diana started before Akko cut her off.

“Okay so we know that the mirror lets you see, and talk, and all that, so what if we take a piece of the mirror with us, and we can recreate the mirror, but smaller.”

Diana tilted her head, thinking it over, “Well we would need to somehow get a frame for it, and make sure that it is inscribed correctly, but it might work.”

“I can get that no problem, there is a craft store in town that I can a frame for.” Akko said bouncing in place.

“Well…” Diana said, looking around with her lips quirking up, “I unfortunately have no inclination for getting in trouble, it is far out of my field.” She said, Akko swearing that there was a teasing lilt to her voice.

“You happen to be in the presence of a master of causing trouble, or so I have been told.” Akko said with a matching grin, “let’s get these mirrors cleaned then I might have to accidentally drop this one.”

A soft laugh seemed to echo throughout Akko’s mind, her mind seeming to grind to a halt at the sound of Diana’s laughter. Wow, she felt herself think for the second time that night, I wanna hear that again.

“Now that we have that solved,” Diana said, seeming to relax as the tension flowed out of her body with her laugh, “I believe that you were going to tell me how this cell phone works.”

Akko jumped back up, grabbing some rags and hurriedly starting to clean, the rest of the time flying by as she tried to explain the Internet to the English witch, smiling as she realized that when she said she could show Diana what something was, that she could actually do it very soon.

Faster than she expected Akko was done with her detention, slowly moving all of the mirrors back into place before facing the narrow mirror still showing Diana.

“You ready,” She said, Diana nodding. “Here we go,” she said, taking the pointed end of the shiny rod into one of the corners of the mirror, muttering a spell, “Murowa.” She said, feeling the shiny rod respond with only a flicker of power, Akko exhausted even from trying to push out that much magical energy, and glad that it had even worked in the first place.

A spiderweb of cracks came from the side of the mirror, small pieces of class falling from the corner where the mirror was fractured, larger pieces starting to slide from the top as Akko hurriedly laid the mirror down on the floor, Diana vanished from the reflection. She looked over the mirror, finding one of the larger pieces at the top, a jagged diamond piece of glass that she slipped inside of the notebook.

She looked around and saw a corner of the room where she gently put the mirror, covering it up by propping up several mirrors in front of it, hoping that it would be hidden long enough that she would not be blamed for this.

A few minutes later she let out a sigh of relief as she slipped back into the red dorm room, grabbing Diana’s book and whispering to it, “Does it work,” she said cracking open the book.

‘Not yet’ Diana wrote out, ‘but I can feel the magic, we just need to make a spell frame for it, then I am sure that it will work.’

“Good plan,” Akko said, “I’ll go tomorrow morning, I’ll let you know when I get back, we can work on it the rest of the day.” She said, propping Diana’s journal up on her desk, set open as Diana changed the texts to resemble Akko’s notes as the Japanese witch let out a large yawn, the two exchanging farewells for the night as Akko fell asleep almost moments after hitting the bed.

The next morning found Akko stumbling back into her dorm room, clutching a travel mug of coffee like it was a lifeline as she returned from her day of classes.

She pulled a small bag of materials out of her bag and put it down on he desk as she slumped into the chair. “Humans aren’t meant to be up before ten.” She mumbled, squinting at the sun blaring through the windows.

The still exhausted witch had bounded out of bed in the morning, a rough night of sleep affected by her excitement and nerves from the night. She had taken off before her roommates had gotten up in order to make it back before classes had started.

Already tired by the time that class had started she had barely gotten through the day with Diana’s help, the witch writing down some of the answers in order to help her classwork.

‘I do appreciate it Akko,’ Diana wrote, ‘Even though getting up earlier is probably better for your academic learning.’

Akko grumbled as she waved her hands, shooing the other girl away. She pulled out the materials that she had bought from the store earlier, a small picture frame and a few small carving tools that she had found. She laid them out in front of her as she gently pulled the large shard of the mirror from a drawer.

The jagged piece of of glass caught the light as it filtered in through the blinds, spots appearing on the ceiling as the light bounced against the rough edges. Akko held the picture frame up to the glass, it was a small oval wood frame, it looked like it would be at home propped up on an antique business desk, the older style grabbing Akko’s eyes when she was shopping.

Gingerly she marked out how she would cut the mirror, glancing around before moving over to Sucy’s desk, reaching behind to grab a large garden shears. If she remembered correctly Sucy had been bragging about how these were supposed to cut through any material, to make harvesting potion parts easier.

The shears lined up with the rough lines that Akko had drawn on the mirror, the witch grimacing as she looked away and closed the tool, relieved to not hear the shattering or crunching of glass. Looking over she saw that the shears had cleanly cut through the mirror.

A sigh of relief broke the fragile silence, words quickly appearing on the page. ‘It worked then?’

“So far,” Akko replied, going back to slowly cutting through the glass, the glass quickly taking shape to fit the frame. “I knew Sucy had the right materials, she always has the crazy stuff.”

‘Your friends certainly sound interesting’ Diana writes.

“Your friends too,” Akko continued to cut, every so often checking to make sure she got it right the first time. “Well soon at least, right now they might just think I’m crazy again.”

Diana found herself speechless, tossing around the idea of opening up to more people. She had already gotten more than she thought she would, with a possible way to see the world again, and someone who seemed to actually want to help. Could friends be another thing that she might get… ‘I’d like that.’ She wrote, relying on a shred of courage before falling silent again.

“Yes!” Akko let out a shout as she finished locking the glass in place, starting to ramble off adventures that she had already been on with her friends, some of them causing Diana to silently worry about what the state of the outside world was like if they had that many dangerous adventures.

Akko paused during a recollection of a journey into her friends mind, turning towards Diana, “Hey Diana could you pull up those symbols, I can get started on carving it in.”

A crude picture of the mirror formed in the notebook, showing the symbols that lined the outside, the symbols twisting around the printed frame.

“Thanks,” Akko said with a smile, going back to her story as she carved away at the wood frame in front of her, eventually falling silent as she poked her tongue out of her mouth as she concentrated, the light from outside dimming into nothing as it turned to night.

Eventually the last symbol was carved into the frame, the glass turning a shimmering black as she picked the carving tool from the frame. Akko let out a small noise of amazement, slowly lifting up the new mirror and placing it on the inside cover of Diana’s book, bracketing it into place and securing it with glue.

As she lifted her hands from the book she held her breath, the glass seeming to ripple for a moment before it cleared, the darkness of the mirror seeming to slide from the mirror as if a silk curtain had been slowly pulled off, revealing the sight of a blinking Diana.

“Whoooo!” Akko yelled, grabbing Diana off the desk ans spinning around the room in excitement.

A laugh caused her to halt in place, looking into the mirror to see Diana laughing , spinning around herself as Akko was struck by how free she looked, her arms outstretched and a wide grin on her face.

“Thank you Atsuko.” Diana said, focusing in on the Japanese witch’s face.

“It’s fine,” Akko said, a small blush on her face, “I wanted to help, and look we did magic!”

“You,” Diana said, her voice firm and a smile on her face, “You did magic.”

The blush grew on her face, Akko feeling her stomach turn and chalking it up to skipping dinner. “Well,” she said, trying to distract from the praise, “Now you can see everything what do you want to do?”

Diana tapped her finger against her chin, lost in thought, “Well,” she said, suddenly looking slightly embarrassed, “I have been unable to read a good work of fiction in a very long time.” She said, mumbling near the end, “Even though I may be a book does not mean I cannot enjoy reading.”

Akko laughed, going over to the desk as she set the book down. “Well I don’t have anything that isn’t in Japanese but I can ask Lotte tomorrow, she likes reading.”

“That would be lovely thank you.”

“It’s fine,” Akko said, her words cut off with a large yawn.

“You should sleep,” Diana said, Akko glad to hear that teasing in her voice again, “After all you suffered being awake before ten in the morning.”

Akko tried to resist before her body betrayed her with another yawn, acquiescing as she absentmindedly closed the book.

Realizing that she whipped back around, an apology already forming on her lips.

“Well it seems one of my questions was answered,” Diana’s voice came from the journal. “It seems that I can still see and hear when the book is closed.”

“Heh,” Akko said, walking over and propping the book back up on her desk, “That’s good, just going to make sure you aren’t staring at my ceiling all night.”

“Any sight is welcome at this point,” Diana said, “Besides I am fairly certain I can also get some form of sleep like this, even as a book.”

Akko walked back towards her bed, all of the stress and excitement of the day hitting her at once as she mumbled, “Good good, don’t wanna…” she hit the bed already asleep.

A soft laughter filled the room, Diana letting a tear escape, she could finally see, she could actually talk in this form, no more being ignored, no more dusty library shelves, she thought. Maybe, if she was lucky, even more.

Chapter Text

Lotte had always been observant, years of burying her head in her books had taught her that people did not seem to realize that you were there if you never spoke up. The only ones who seemed to notice were spirits, they seemed to be drawn to the quite girl, relaxing in her presence. But people seemed to forget she was there, including a certain brown haired room mate.

“And then they flew up into space for the final fight!” the excitable girl rambled from the bunk beneath her, Lotte having long abandoned the latest Nightfall novel in order to listen in on her friend explain the plot of an anime.

“I am very confused,” A voice said. “I was unaware that people had reached the moon. How would they even get there?” That mysterious voice. Lotte had heard Akko speaking to someone at night when she thought that everyone was asleep for the past week. It had all started last week, when Akko had come to her with a strange request.

She had ran into her right after class and had asked if she had any book recommendations, and when Lotte had asked what type of books the Japanese witch had bolted to the bathroom before coming back and telling her that fantasy was a good genre. Lotte had prepared a list of books that she had enjoyed, and then later heard Akko list all of them off with summaries to the mysterious voice, stopping to clarify many of the terms.

“Well yeah we went to the moon, I mean some people think its fake but we don’t listen to them. Just like the people who think the earth is flat or Shiny Chariot is stupid.” Akko said animatedly. Lotte was beginning to enjoy listening in on these conversations, but she knew she eventually had to talk to Akko about it, the amount of times she had opened the door to see Akko holding one book and then suddenly stop and hold still, growing completely silent was decidedly un-Akko like.

“Why would someone think that the earth is flat? We have known that for hundreds of years?” The other voice said.

“I know but you can’t trust what people say on the Internet Diana. At least that is what my mom said.” So the girl had a name, Diana.

“You have mentioned this before, the Internet, it is what lets you retrieve all of your knowledge from that small mirror that you have correct? What was it called, a cell phone?”

Huh, Lotte thought, who doesn’t know what the Internet is. Whoever this person was, she was going to have to ask Akko about it, if just so she can see if she can get some one else to try nightfall. Or at least someone who seemed to enjoy reading, rather than Akko, who seemed to have too much energy for reading, or Sucy, who she was sure was using some of her Nightfall novels as stands for her equipment.

I’ll talk to Sucy, she decided, and we can figure out what she is going later. She thought as she finally let herself get taken over by sleep.

Doing homework had been impossible since Akko had bought Diana a few of the books that Lotte had recommended. Not because of any fault of Diana of course, she was still being a wonderful tutor and took time away from her reading to help Akko with her homework and was very nice and easy to talk to… Akko shook herself out of her thoughts, trying to refocus on her magical symbology homework.

There was a test coming up and Akko had managed to borrow some of Sucy’s enchanted ink that she swore would permanently keep any information that she wrote down memorized and Akko needed this test to go well. An almost silent gasp made Akko’s eyes dart back over towards what she had dubbed Diana’s half of the desk, looking over to see Diana engrossed in a book. The two of them had, with some trial and error, figured out a way to prop her up so that she could see both Akko’s homework and her own novel, as well as a clever spell courtesy of Lotte that turned the pages of books on demand.

The problem, Akko decided, was that Diana was a very expressive reader, and that Akko was way too easily distracted. She had no idea that Diana would get this into reading, though she should have figured that when she flew through the few books that they had gotten from the book store in Blytonbury, and even tried some of Lotte’s Nightfall books; though she confessed that they were not her style of writing. Another soft reaction came from Diana, and Akko was once again reminded of her problem, that Diana reading was just… cute? Adorable? Heart melting? Her traitorous brain supplied the words, Akko pushing them back down, refusing to acknowledge anything her mind said.

It was just different doing homework with people, especially people willing to listen to her and help, yeah that was it, she thought. She tried to resist checking in with the other witch as she turned back to her homework, taking her quill and carefully writing out the next glyph. How witches got by with almost no technology, or even mechanical pencils, Akko would never know.

“Is your homework going alright Akko?” Akko turned to face Diana, seeing the witch in the mirror of the journal. “You were working on some of the more difficult glyphs the last time I checked in.”

Stupid caring, helpful, nice witches who wouldn’t let her finish her homework. “I think this ink stuff of Sucy’s is really working, I can’t seem to get these glyphs from dancing in front of my eyes. Or maybe I’ve been studying too long.” She said, causing the blonde witch to laugh.

“I was unaware that there was a thing as too much studying.” Diana said teasingly, “I assure you if it exists I doubt that you have found it yet.”

Akko stuck out her tongue at Diana and turned back to her parchment, “I know, it just is so much to remember, and I never had this much trouble learning English before.”

“Oh,” Diana said, her curiosity peaked, “What is your native language?”

“Japanese.” Akko said proudly, “I had to learn English before my parents would let me go to Luna Nova, but that wasn’t as hard as this, all I did was talk a lot with people on-line and it seemed easy to pick up. Though still sometimes it can be really confusing.”

“Maybe you could try to create corresponding sounds to the different parts of the glyphs? That way you could speak it out loud and write at the same time, it might help it stick in your brain.” Diana glanced at the small pot of enchanted ink, “And you would comprehend it instead of just having it in your head due to potioned ink.”

“That could work,” Akko turned the idea over in her head, thinking about the way she had picked up English, and more recently, fish language. “Plus I really don’t have any better options so why not go for it.”

Diana’s laugh made Akko’s lips curl into a small grin as she set her shoulders and started to try to memorize the glyphs again, using Diana’s trick. “Do you know any crazy magic languages,” she asked wanting to keep the conversation flowing.

“I know Lunar Runes, Dragon-speech, and Gaelic.” Akko’s jaw almost dropped, fresh excitement over-riding her motivation for grades.

“Dragons are real!!” she yelled, excitedly leaning over the desk to get closer to Diana, as if the proximity would more easily grant her secrets. “Do they like riddles? Can they breath fire?” she gasped, “Can you teach me how to talk to dragons.”

There seemed to be bright lights reflecting on Akko’s eyes, Diana thought, the joy infectiously radiating off of the girl. “Yes to all of those,” Diana said, “Though I am unsure if all of them like riddles, but I only met one dragon myself. I would be happy to teach you, although it is almost impossible to speak with normal human voices, Dragons have quite a different lung structure than we do.”

The excited witch didn’t listen past Diana’s assent to teach her, too caught up in the idea of speaking to dragons to notice anything else as she flung her arms up in celebration, realizing much too late that the bottle of ink was perfectly placed in the path of her hand as she collided with it, upending the bottle and sending a large arc of ink into the air, where it collided perfectly with Diana’s journal.

Time seemed to freeze, the silence hanging over the room as the green ink slowly dripped down one of the pages of the journal. Akko suddenly burst into motion, trying to grab a spare shirt to blot up the ink, spewing out apologies as she tried to fix the situation.

Unfortunately when Sucy had told Akko that this ink was permanent, she was not exaggerating. The ink would not come off of the page. Akko stepped back, grimacing as she tried to downplay the situation.

“Okay I can figure this out.” She said, before the ink gradually disappeared. “Oh, that was easy.”

“Did you manage to get all of it?” Diana said, Akko turning towards her.

“Yeah it just dis-” Akko’s words were cut off as she looked into the mirror, specifically at Diana’s hair, which now had streaks of light green in it.

“Is everything alright Atsuko?”

She found herself unable to speak as she slowly took out her phone, taking a picture of Diana with her new hair color. Turning the phone around she showed Diana her new look.

“Oh.” There was silence as Diana examined the photo, “That actually looks quite nice. New. But nice.”

“I’m so sorry,” Akko blurted out, falling down into her seat as she let her head fall onto the desk, “I am sure I can fix that, I can talk to Sucy see if she can make some magical dye to change it back. Or maybe the shiny rod can, or Professor Ursula.”

“Akko, I said that it looks nice. It is okay, I am not going to blame you for getting excited and accidentally spilling some ink.” Diana said, cutting Akko off. “I always wondered what my hair would look like if it was some other color.” She said smiling, “I would imagine myself coming home and shocking my aunt into a heart attack by some new grand hairstyle.”

Akko was unable to hold back a giggle, “If you say so,” she said, “But I still feel bad and am going to make this up to you.”

“You can teach me Japanese then.” Diana said, twirling some new green hair in her fingers. “I still have yet to find my own limits of studying and a new language sounds, well fun.” She said with a quirk of her lips.

“Deal” Akko glanced down at her notes, cringing at the amount that she still had to do, “Tomorrow, I’ll start tomorrow.” She sighed, pushing away her guilt in order to continue her notes, I’ll make it up to her tomorrow, she thought.

Lotte was midway through her lunch when Akko dropped down into the seat next to her, her book bag and lunch tray absent as she put her head down on the table and groaned. She looked over at Sucy, who gave a shrug and turned back to her notes, leaving Lotte to console Akko.

“Is everything okay Akko?” Lotte put a hand on the girls shoulders and patted her a few times in reassurance.

“I spilled Sucy’s permanent ink on a book and now I need help apologizing.” Akko’s voice was muffled as she turned her face into the table. “I just can’t figure out how to do it.”

“You could, you know, get a new book.” Sucy commented, raising an eyebrow as Lotte shrugged.

Akko shot up, sitting up and staring at Sucy with a scandalized face, “I can’t just get a new book, she, I mean, it’s a special book, yeah that’s it. One of a kind.” She nodded to herself, crossing her arms and glaring at Sucy.

“Maybe you could get a nice bookmark? Or a book jacket to prevent a spill from happening again?” Lotte said, trying to diffuse the tension.

Her words seemed to jolt Akko into action as she jumped up from the bench, “That’s a good idea, Thanks Lotte! Sorry about the ink Sucy!” she yelled as she ran backwards, almost tripping over several people in her haste to get out the door.

“Something is going on with her,” Lotte said, Sucy giving a grunt of agreement.

“I can make a truth potion.”

“No, no.” Lotte hurriedly struck the idea down, “I have an idea.”

Akko raced back into the dorm, running over to her desk and pulling out one of the drawers, rummaging around before pulling something out, “Found it!” she cried triumphantly.

“Found what,” Diana said, Akko looking up to see that she had left Diana on the desk. She opened up the cover to show the mirror, waving at Diana.

“The way that I am going to apologize,” she waved her gift around excitedly before showing it to Diana, “Its a limited edition Shiny Chariot metal bookmark!” The thin sheet of metal was stamped with an image of a witch, Diana recognizing it from the descriptions Akko had given of her idol.

“That is very sweet, but as I already told you, you have no need to apologize.” Diana smiled fondly, “I would not hold an accident over your head like that.”

“I know but I just want to make sure that you are doing okay, I mean this is all a lot for you in such a short time.” Akko said, crashing down on her bunk.

“You made sure I have plenty of books, and I am much happier than I have been in a long time.” Diana said, “You are doing wonderfully.”

A small smile came over Akko’s face as she yawned, resting back against the pillows as she mumbled a thanks, falling asleep before hearing Diana softly reply, “No, thank you Akko.”

A loud noise made Akko sit up on her bunk, looking around to see Lotte and Sucy, the setting sun framing the two witches as the light streamed through the blinds. The two witches had managed to corner Akko in the dorm, Sucy leaning against the doorway and blocking any hope of escape as Lotte stood over Akko as she sat on her bunk, still tired from waking up from her nap. Both of them with matching blank looks on their faces.

“So,” the Finnish witch said, seeming to loom over Akko despite her size, her glasses reflecting the light as the interrogation began.

“So” Akko squeaked out, clutching her book bag as her eyes darted back and forth between her two room mates.

“We know something is going on,” Lotte paced in front of the bed, shooting Akko a glance as the other girl remained silent.

Lotte rolled her eyes as she started to count on her fingers, “You seemed extremely happy after detention last week, you have been buying random items from the town including books that I know aren’t your type of fiction and that you haven’t read because you can’t answer any of my questions about them, people have told us that you have been walking around the halls talking to yourself, you asked for advice for apologizing to a book of all things, and,” Lotte let out a long breath as she stopped and looked at Akko accusingly, “I’ve heard you talk to Diana at night.”

“How,” Akko started, before another sigh interrupted her.

“I already told you that there was nothing to apologize for Akko, I don’t know why you insist on trying to continue to try.” A voice came from Akko’s book bag, Lotte and Sucy both smirking in victory. “And we really made no effort to try to keep our voices down.”

Akko slumped, opening up her book bag as she slid out a journal, “Alright, alright, I would have introduced you anyway, plus maybe you two can help us.”

“Akko I do not believe that they can tell who I am when the book is closed.” The voice said, the witches starting at the voice that was emanating from the closed book, twin looks of confusion on their faces.

“Oh yeah,” Akko opened the book and turned it around, holding it open at its cover. There was a picture on the inside cover of the journal of a blonde haired witch with green highlights, wearing an older looking uniform with a blue tie and sash. Suddenly the picture moved, causing Lotte to jump back and Sucy to lean in with interest.

“Hello, I am Diana Cavendish.” The girl said, nodding at the witches, “Akko has been kind enough to help me with my unique problem.”

“You’re a book.” Sucy said, Lotte hitting her shoulder and trying to shush her.

“Somewhat,” Diana said, pacing back and forth inside of the mirror, “I was cursed, and placed inside of this book.”

“And now we are going to help her get her body back!” Akko yelled, jumping into the conversation, “Right guys?”

“You were the one who was asking about all of those books right?” Lotte said, “I had figured that it probably wasn’t Akko reading through multiple novels that fast. Di you enjoy them?”

“Yes,” Diana smiled, “And thank you for your recommendations Lotte, they were particularly interesting and some were quite captivating.”

A huge grin broke out on Lotte’s face, “Okay I’ll help.”

“Yes!” Akko jumped up and hugged Lotte, turning to Sucy with a huge grin on her face, “Please..” She dragged out the pleading, causing Sucy to roll her eyes.

Sucy turned and faced Diana, “Do you know of any old potions or mushrooms.”

“How do you think Akko is passing potions,” Diana replied, Akko making an indignant noise as Sucy chuckled.

“I’m in. You better know some good potions Cavendish.” Akko attacked Sucy with a hug, pulling her and Lotte together as she yelled in victory.

“All right! Red team is on the case!”

“Thank you both,” Diana’s voice was much quieter but laden with emotion, all three turning to her. “I never thought I would find anyone willing to help before you three.”

Akko smiled, pulling her room mates into an embrace on either side of her, both of them with small encouraging smiles, “We are going to figure this out, just like we are going to find Chariot and figure out the Shiny Rod, cause a believing heart is our magic!”

She posed wildly, switching poses every few seconds as she started to ramble about the power of friendship and magic, the others listening with fond smiles on their faces. Somewhere, deep within her heart, Diana felt the spark of hope that had been there since Akko had found her grow larger, watching the witches push each other around and play. I believe in you Akko, she thought, her stomach feeling near weightless as a slight flush came over her cheeks.

Huh, Diana thought, staring confusedly at her stomach, feeling it almost turn over on itself, her body flooded with a strange light feeling; well, she thought, that is certainly new.

Chapter Text

The sound of stone crashing on the ground echoed across the courtyard, Akko groaning in frustration as she paced back and forth in front of the pile of stone pieces. Gathering her breath she raised her wand and pointed it at the pile of stone, “Sosomme tiextrilla,” she shouted, concentrating on the stones as they hovered in the air.

They floated towards each other and started to rearrange themselves into into the shape of the statue that she was trying to repair before once again crashing down onto the floor. She groaned, stomping over to a bench and throwing herself down on it. “I just can’t get it.” She complained, letting her wand fall on the bench beside her.

“Maybe you should take a rest for today,” Diana said, “You already had practice today with Professor Ursula, you don’t want to strain your magic or hurt yourself.” Diana fidgeted with her hands, regretting suggesting extra practice time earlier, not wanting to push Akko when she was already worn out.

“I just don’t understand,” Akko leaned back, looking at the sky as the last bit of light of the day cast the courtyard in sharp shadows, Akko reaching her hand up towards the sky. “All I want to do is to be like Chariot, I want to do magic and make people happy. Why is it so hard to do that?”

Akko had been training since she had come back from her tutoring with Professor Ursula; earlier in the day she had trudged back into the dorm room, dragging her feet as she flopped into her bunk, grumbling into her pillow.

“Everything okay Akko?” Lotte said, looking up from her desk, Sucy giving a cursory glance from her bed before turning back to the small cauldron that she had set up on it.

“No,” Akko muttered, rolling over as she threw an arm over her face. “I couldn’t cast the spell that Professor Urusla was going over with me.”

Lotte gave her a pat on the arm, “I’m sure that you will get it eventually,” she said encouragingly. “It just takes time.”

An unintelligible mutter came from Akko, Lotte looking at her in confusion before she groaned again. “I tried 101 times.” She whined, “I got so close but it just wouldn’t work. Maybe I should just give up, I mean how can I find Chariot if I can’t even cast this spell.”

Diana felt a pit open in her stomach at the witches words, unused to hearing the normally excitable witch so down on herself. “Maybe you just need to approach it a different way,” She chimed in, trying to make her feel better.

“I guess,” Akko sighed. Diana searching her brain to try to find a way to uplift her friend.

“Maybe we can go practice? I am not as competent of a witch as the teachers but maybe I can help?”

“And it is almost the blue moon,” Lotte added, “Remember we learned in class that magic is stronger tonight than it is usually.”

Akko perked up at that, seeming to recover a bit of her enthusiasm. “Okay, yeah, let’s do that!” she bounded off of the bed, grabbing the Shiny Rod from the side of her bed and her book bag, grabbing Diana as she ran to the door, darting out with a quick thanks to Lotte and Sucy.

They had practiced for almost a half an hour, finding them back here, on sitting on the bench, with Akko just as disheartened as before.

“I told Professor Ursula after training that I just wanted to be like Chariot and meet her, and she said that we don’t get everything we wish for.” Akko continued talking, turning the Shiny Rod over in her hands.

“I am sure she did not mean it like that.”

“I know, she said that but also that if I work for something I will eventually get it.” Akko stared upwards at the rising moon. “I just have waited so long for my dream.” She said, thinking about all of the times that her magic had backfired on her.

“I know what you mean,” Diana said sadly, a sad smile on her face, Akko looking over at her as they fell into a soft silence. “Do you know something,” Diana started, “my dream, I guess you could say I am a lot like you Akko.” Akko stared stunned at the witch, her mind drawn in by her soft voice.

“I loved magic as a child, my mother would teach me spells whenever she had time.” A wistful look crossed her face, “I wanted to show everyone magic, from my cousins to everyone else. All everyone seemed to be talking about was how magic was fading. Every time my mother came home she seemed more tired, and I wanted to take that all away.”

Akko felt her heart melt, unable to resist whispering out, “because magic is meant to be shared.” Her lips quirked up in a smile, Diana with an answering expression and nodding. Akko got a determined look on her face, something from class popping into her mind. “The blue moon spirit,” she breathed out, Diana pausing for a moment before a look of recognition crossing her face.

“I bet we can get answers there, both for my future and your curse. The spirit is supposed to give us the answer to any question, we can finally get a lead.” Akko jumped up again, grabbing the gear around her. Diana smiled fondly, there really was nothing that seemed to keep this girl down.

“Come on Diana,” Akko yelled, grabbing her book bag before taking off across campus. “We have a spirit to find.”

Akko barreled through the brush, bursting into the clearing as she walked into the middle of the clearing, the moon almost at its zenith in the sky. “We made it!” Akko said panting, walking into the center of the clearing and slowly spinning around. “The spirit should be here, the light is supposed to reveal it.”

“Maybe the doing something with the Shiny Rod,” Diana puzzled, “If there was something here maybe magic can reveal it.”

“Good idea,” Akko said, pulling out the Shiny Rod and taking a deep breath. “Blue Moon Spirit, show yourself!” she yelled, holding the Shiny Rod above her head.

There was silence, both Akko and Diana holding their breath as they watched the ground around them them, the light from the blue moon playing around the clearing. A moment later the light reflected off of the Shiny Rod, filtering through gems in the staff as the beams landed on the stone, a rumbling coming from the ground before it opened up, sending Akko tumbling down a chute and gripping onto her bag tightly.

She spilled out onto the ground, groaning as she pushed herself up back onto her feet. “Are you okay?” Diana asked, concern leaking into her voice.

“Yeah,” Akko rubbed her head stretching as she winced slightly from the fall. She looked around, taking in the sight of the underground cavern, “Wow,” she spun around, “This must be where the spirit is.” Moonlight streamed through the hole in the roof of the cavern, illuminating the dust as it drifted through the air.

Akko gently set her bag on the ground, propping Diana’s journal against it, allowing her to see the entire cave. “I would not have thought that there was something down here,” Diana said with wonder.

The wind whistled through one end of the cavern, a damp breeze coming from a tunnel on one end of the cavern. Akko took a couple steps forward, calling out a greeting, “Hello! Anyone here! Mrs spirit?”

The wind kicked up as the dust swirled in the air, the light seeming to dance as a figure stepped out of the dancing light. Akko stood, open mouthed at the form in front of her.

“Chariot?” She choked out, taking a step forward and reaching out her hand. “Is that you?”

Diana felt her mind swim as she stared at the sight, wanting to cry out to Akko but feeling herself unable to speak, stunned into silence. The figure in front of Akko was her mother, seeming to stare right past Akko and directly at her.

The spirit slowly reached out, “What is your dream child,” Chariot said, Akko still inching closer towards the spirit. The spirit slowly reached out as her fingers made contact with Akko’s forehead.

The moment that the spirit touched Akko she went still, seemingly frozen in place. Diana suddenly felt herself able to speak, and she yelled out to Akko, trying to snap her out of it, but she remained stunned. Never before had she been more frustrated with her curse, growling as she wished in vain that she could get out of the book and help Akko.

She clenched her hands, her fingernails digging into her palms as she kept trying to call out for Akko, hoping that she could somehow wake her up.

--

Akko came to consciousness with the sound of cheers and loud music, jolting up and looking around in confusion as she found herself on a stage, wearing a replica of Shiny Chariots outfit.

She slowly turned on stage, taking in the huge crowd in front of her. This was it, everything she had ever wanted, the crowd yelling out for her as she twirled the Shiny Rod in her hands, sparks flying around her as the cheering grew louder. She felt emotion swell in her throat at the feeling of magic flowing through her, easier than anything else that she had tried to cast.

Despite the lights shining into her eyes from the stage she could see the crowd in front of her, her parents in the front row cheering up at her. No one from Luna Nova to tell her that she couldn’t achieve her dreams.

No one from Luna Nova. She felt her breath catch in her throat as she scanned the crowd, peering into the darkness on the sides of the stage as she tried to find any familiar faces. No Lotte, No Amanda or Sucy, No Ursula, No Diana. No Diana.

Her hands grew sweaty as the lights suddenly felt too bright for her eyes, the crowd too loud in her ears. “This isn’t right.” She muttered, “This isn’t what I want.”

“Isn’t it?” The voice from the cave came from the side of the stage, “you are like Chariot, you can have all of this. All you have to do is give up your past.”

Suddenly bright glowing orbs popped out of her chest, floating around her as she looked into them. She gasped as she saw her friends and teachers reflected inside of them, memories of the time she spent with her friends playing inside like a movie.

“Is there really anything worth remembering in here,” The spirit said, “You can forget all of your failures, and have your dream.” The globes shimmered before starting to play out different memories. Akko crashing to the ground after trying to fly. Failed tests pilled up on her desk as Finnelan hovered over her. Witches laughing behind their hands at her as she practiced magic out side with her friends.

“You can make people happy, you can be the one to put a smile on everyone’s face.” Akko turned around, looking out into the crowd, finally she was just like Chariot. She turned around, her mouth opening and closing as she felt her stomach turn.

She opened her mouth, before the memory of earlier tonight ran through her head, Diana’s soft voice echoing in her head. “My dream, I guess you could say I am a lot like you Akko.” The words echoed in her head, the memory of Diana’s soft smile imprinted into her mind.

Her grip on the Shiny Rod tightened, glancing back at the crowds behind her. Her name was announced with cheers, calling her mind back to the first time that she saw chariot. The two memories clashing in her mind

A sad smile came across her face as she turned back to the spirit, her eyes flashing with determination. “This isn’t what I want.” She said, holding the Shiny Rod out to her side. “Yeah I have messed up before, but I want to remember that.” She stepped toward the spirit, an orb next to her, one showing her crashing to the ground trying to ride a broom. Another step, her sprawling entrance to Luna Nova dissolving into the air. Each of the memories, each reminder of a failure, shattering as she strode forward.

“My failures make me who I am,” she stepped through the spirit of Chariot, feeling her breath return to her, looking up to see a large tree-like spirit in front of her as well as her bag over on the side of the cave, her world returned to normal.

“I make mistakes, yes.” she strode forward holding the Shiny Rod tightly with two hands, “But I keep going, because I have a believing heart, and because I have people who I promised to help, and I won’t let her down.” Her mind flashed once again to Diana, the two of them sitting on her bunk at night talking about anything that came to their minds, the sound of her laugh making her heart flutter with emotion.

“Someone important to me told me that I might not always get what I want,” she held the Shiny Rod up above her head, thoughts of training with Ursula and Diana on her mind. “But I will always get what I work for. Phaidoari Afairynghor!”

The shiny rod glowed, one of the orbs on it growing bright as it extended, Akko grasping the handles that formed on it as the Shiny Rod transformed into an axe; cutting into the wind as she brought it down on the spirit.

Diana held her breath as she watched, glad that Akko had snapped out of her stupor and awestruck as she wielded the Shiny Rod. Akko brought the ake down on the spirit, a bright light and rush of magical power blasting outward from the contact. She covered her eyes in alarm, feeling the warmth of the magical power on her skin.

Wait. She opened her eyes, squinting against the light as she marveled as she saw her arm thrown up over her face, sitting in the cave. She glanced behind her, seeing her book propped open to show the mirror… empty.

She tried to speak, the words getting caught in her throat as she tried to say anything, her voice sore from disuse. The stone was cold beneath her, the sensation strange to her body as she marveled at the fact that somehow she was outside of her prison. The light from the magical contact faded as Diana felt her perspective shift, once again starting from the perspective of the journal.

She stared stunned at her arms, looking back up to see Akko talking with the spirit, now a beautiful woman, the words they were saying unintelligible, as if she was listening through water.

Akko walked over, gently holding the Shiny Rod with stars in her eyes. “I did it,” she whispered, the realization setting in, “I did it!” she yelled, throwing her hands up in celebration as she ran over, a skip in her step as she ran over to Diana.

“I found another word!!” She was breathless with joy, Diana looking up and feeling a smile make its way across her face, caught up in the infectious joy Akko was radiating.

“You were wonderful Akko.” She smiled, looking up at the girl with tears in her eyes, a sense of hope and something stronger, something she still couldn’t put a name to, coming over her, starting up at Akko, “I think I know how to break the curse.”

Chapter Text

The corner of the library was empty this early in the morning, save for three witches sitting around a table in the corner, the morning light playing on surface of the table and casting a dim light over the small group. Lotte yawned over a cup of coffee as she tried to blink herself awake while Sucy had her hat pulled down over her eyes, still half asleep.

A hand slammed down on the table, causing Sucy to jolt in her seat. “I bet you all are wondering why I called you here this morning.” Akko said, glancing at each of the witches.

“You found another word and Diana thinks she knows how to break the curse,” Sucy drawls out, face still hidden by her hat and hair, her voice thick with tiredness as Lotte nodded along, “You ran into the dorm at 2am yelling about it, do you think we would forget in four hours?”

Akko grinned sheepishly, giving a small laugh, “hah, that is true… Diana tell them what you think!” she gestured towards Diana, propped against the witch’s book bags, she seemed just as tired as the rest of the witches, but had a soft smile on her face.

“Last night, while Akko was discovering the next word, I think it broke the curse for a moment.” Lotte put her cup down in shock, Sucy looking up and tilting her head.

“What do you mean?” Lotte asked, adjusting her glasses and pulling out a notebook and a quill.

“Well,” Diana cleared her throat, “When the Shiny Rod hit the spirit, the magical energy that released freed me from the book, I was outside of it, I could feel the stone and…” she trailed off as her voice grew tight. “Any way, what I think is that the energy released by the word being unlocked over rode my curse for a moment. Perhaps with enough magical power from the Shiny Rod, it could break me out permanently.”

The shiny rod rested on the middle of the table, three of the spheres embedded in it glowing with a faint light. “Three more left.” Lotte pulled over the large book laying open on the table, a large illustration of the Shiny Rod with seven glowing stars on the page. “We just need to figure out the other words, there has to be some way to find more of them, and we have already looked through everything we could here.”

“How about the restricted section,” Sucy said, “The professors might have something there that might be able to help us.”

“Are you sure that you just don’t want an excuse to steal some of Ludik’s potion books,” Lotte narrowed her eyes at the purple haired witch, Sucy calmly matching her expression.

“Maybe.” Lotte rolled her eyes as Sucy continued, “Its the last place that we haven’t checked, and unless anyone else knows of a place…” The group fell into silence before Diana sighed.

“I can not believe that I am going to say this,” she muttered, Akko chuckling slightly as Diana sighed, “How do we break into this restricted area?” she cringed after asking the question, as if asking how to break the rules physically hurt her.

The group fell into silence as they considered what to do, the silence broken by the voices of the Blue team traveling down the aisle and slowly getting closer.

“Did you hear? They decided on a venue for Andrew’s party later tonight.” Hannah’s voice was raised, obviously trying to attract as much attention as possible as she and Barbara walked towards the witch’s table. “The Hanbridge family rented out the old Cavendish manor just for the night, they really spared no expense.”

Akko’s eyes widened, shooting a glance at Diana who was frozen, a look of shock on her face. “It will be an exclusive event, no commoners allowed.” Hannah sneered as she briefly looked at the red team, continuing past and talking about the party.

The witches immediately looked at Diana, still frozen, an awkward silence overtaking the table before Akko butted in. “We have to get into that party.” She said the table turning to look at her as she caught Diana giving her a grateful look from the corner of her eye.

Diana cleared her throat nervously, the table looking over at her as she nervously straightened up her uniform. “There is the the Cavendish library,” she said, glancing over at Akko, “There are books in there that might be able to help us.” Akko nodded, turning to Lotte and Sucy with a determined look on her face.

“We need to get into that party,” Akko repeated, Lotte sighing and nodding as Sucy broke out in a wide grin. She stood up, grabbing her bag and the Shiny Rod, “And I have a plan.”

“When you said that you had a plan I was hoping that it would be an actual plan, and not just ‘let’s hope that there is something in town that can help us’.” Lotte said, sorting through a few magical hats, reading the small tags attached to them as the three witches sorted through the items on sale at the Last Wednesday Society.

Akko popped up next to her, wearing a large floppy witch hat with a large flower pinned to it. “But there is always stuff here that can help, I mean its a magic shop!” she spun around, grabbing Lotte’s arm to keep balance, “And if there is one thing that magic can help us do its sneak into a party.”

“Well if you are planning to sneak into a party I can help.” Akko whirled around, Lotte almost dropping the hat she was holding in surprise as the two saw Amanda leaning casually against a broom rack.

“What party? No one said anything about a party?” Akko blurted out, laughing nervously as she tried to hide one of the hats behind her.

Amanda raised her eyebrow, pushing off from the rack, “If, potentially, you were thinking about getting into a certain party tonight, I could help with that.” She checked her nails with a bored expression.

“Why would you want to get into the party?” Lotte asked, Akko stepping up beside her and narrowing her eyes at the American witch.

“And how do you even know about it,” Akko added.

“Team priss wasn’t exactly being subtle about it, walking around Luna Nova and talking about a huge party where only they were invited.” Amanda scoffed, “I want to show them what for, tear them down off their high horse for once, have a good time while I’m at it.”

“I have something for that,” Sucy said from Amanda’s shoulder, causing the witch to jump, stumbling sideways as she sputtered in surprise. Sucy held up a small jar, a strange looking bee flying into the sides, a small pink heart on the abdomen.

The other witches took a few shuffling steps back, unnerved by the grin on Sucy’s face. “What is that?” Akko asked, peering at the bee as it tried to break through the glass.

“A cupid bee.” Sucy said with a large smile, “I received one due to a mix up and am curious to see if the stories about it are true,” Her grin widened, “and that party has so many perfect test subjects.”

Lotte and Akko looked at each other, Akko shrugging as she turned back to Sucy, “We do need a distraction.” Lotte sighed, nodding in defeat as Sucy grinned.

“And these,” Amanda fished into her pockets, pulling out a handful of small broaches, “are how we are going to get in.” She pinned one of them to her uniform and gave it a twist, the broach glowing before Amanda’s uniform shimmered, turning into casual jeans and a shirt. Akko gasped and ran over, looking over the outfit and trying to figure out the magic.

“That is so cool!” Akko ran around Amanda, tugging at the cloths and inspecting the illusion. “This could work,” she turned back to the rest of the red team, Lotte and Sucy nodding in agreement.

“Good,” Amanda grinned, clapping Akko on the shoulder, meet me outside of Luna Nova just before sundown, and be ready for a wild party.” The American witch threw a wave over her shoulder as she walked away, the red team making extra plans as they walked back to Luna Nova to prepare.

Classical music drifted through the open windows of the Cavendish manor, the lights from the inside illuminating the yard outside, guests drifting around the guards and streaming inside. The red team, along with Amanda and the hidden Diana, watched from around a hedge corner, popping back behind the hedge to plan.

“Okay, all we have to do is just walk through like we are meant to be there, we have our disguises we just need to get through the gate. Just follow me.” Amanda twisted her broach, magic shimmering around her as a neatly tailored suit appeared on her body, her hair slicked back and a loose tie around her neck. She stepped out from behind the hedge, the other three witches copying her as they followed.

Lotte and Akko were given large puffy dresses by the magic broaches,the magic flowing around them it transformed their outfits. They turned to check on Sucy’s outfit, blanching as they noticed that the spell had given her a high collared cape and demon horns, the grin on her face creating a startling image as they turned around and hurried towards the entrance.

Peeking inside of her bag Akko leaned down, “Psst, Diana,” she whispered, “are you doing alright?”

“I am feeling fine Akko,” Diana said stiffly, “Just a tad nervous to be back here after so long.” Akko smiled gently, trying to be reassuring.

“Okay, if you need anything just cough or something, I’ll make up an excuse to get us out of there.”

“Hey Akko, who are you talking to? Come on lets go!” Akko snapped her bag shut and jogged up to the other witches, joining Amanda at the entrance. “As I was saying,” Amanda turned back to the security at the entrance, “The O’Neil family should be on your list.” She said imperiously, waving her hand towards the two security guards at the gate.

One of the guards looked down at the list, flipping through the list of guests as he raised his eyebrow. Amanda fidgeted, her eyes darting back and forth to the red team. Akko looked around and noticed a squirrel over by the hedge that surrounded the mansion. She hid behind Sucy, crouching down and pulling out her wand.

“Metamorphosis Faciesse,” she whispered, the magic shooting out of the wand and hitting the small animal, making it glow as it grew to a huge size, towering over the hedge. The security turned in surprise, both of them turning to deal with the new problem as Amanda slowly slipped past them, the red team following her as she made her way towards the front entrance.

They made their way through the mansion doors, marveling at the lavish decorations as they made their way around the edge of the crowd, ending up at the buffet tables on the side of the room.

“Okay,” Akko said, Amanda and Sucy starting to grab food from the table as the group relaxed, the tension from their sneaking in fading, “We just need to cause a large enough distraction that me and… I mean I can get into the other parts of the mansion.” She shot a nervous glance at Amanda, hoping that she hadn’t picked up on her slip of the tongue.

Amanda didn’t seem to notice, looking through the crowd, as she pointed through the group, Akko turning to see Andrew Hanbridge staring right at her, flanked by a group of boys from the Appleton school. Fast approaching them was Hannah and Barbara, both girls staring at the heir with bright eyes.

“Oh no,” Akko turned back around to the witches, the four huddling close together over the buffet table. “Its the blue team.” Amanda craned her neck, looking at the two girls crowding Andrew, fawning over him’ the Appleton boy was casting curious looks over at Akko every few seconds, clearly trying to ignore the two girls.

“I can distract them,” Amanda said, stepping away with a confident swagger, “Just leave this to me,” she said walking backwards with a grin, both thumbs pointing at herself. She slicked back her hair, adjusting her suit as she walked over.

“Please Ladies, I must check on something,” Andrew stepped away from the blue team, shooting glaces behind him as the boys around him laughed. He turned, heading towards where he had caught sight of Akko, Hannah and Barbara turning to follow him before Amanda stepped between them and the retreating group of boys.

Andrew strode right towards the red team, stopping in front of Akko, “What are you doing here Akko,” Andrew said confronting the witch as she smiled nervously.

“Hi Andrew, how are you?” She backed up, looking to the rest of the red team for help as they sidled away. “Really nice party you have here.”

He raised his eyebrows, looking around before turning back to the witch, “It may not be the type of party that I prefer, but I am sure that you and the rest of your friends were not on the guest list.”

“Well we got in,” Akko said defiantly, crossing her arms and huffing, “So we were obviously on the list.”

Sucy stepped behind a pillar as the two argued, pulling the cupid bee from inside of her cloak as Lotte stood anxiously behind her. “Maybe we should find some other distraction?” She asked anxiously, “This might not turn out well.”

A large grin crossed Sucy’s face as she popped open the lid of the jar, watching as the cupid bee took off flying into the crowd. “I’m counting on that.”

Andrew loomed over Akko, crossing his arms as he stared at the witch, “Regardless of how you managed to enter this party, I believe that it is time for you, and your friends, to leave.” Akko stared defiantly back up at him, both glaring at each other.

A faint buzzing noise made Andrew perk up, his hand slowly moving to the back of neck before he felt a sharp pain, dropping to his knees as the cupid bee flew away.

“Are you alright?” Akko crouched down, curious as to what happened as Andrew’s eyes opened. His eyes were glazed over with a pink sheen as he reached out, grabbing Akko’s hand as he gazed up adoringly.

“I have been denying my feelings,” He said softly, Akko reeling back before he grabbed her hand. “You have not left my mind since we first met, or my heart.” He leaned in placing a gentle kiss against her hand as Akko reeled back in surprise, letting out an shriek as she noticed the cupid bee flying off.

--

Amanda stepped in front of the Blue team, a wide grin on her face. Hannah’s previous grin contorted into a sneer, “What are you doing here O’Niel.” She rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms.

“Oh?” Didn’t Andrew tell you?” She said, glancing at her nails with a bored expression. “I guess you two just weren’t popular enough to hear about it.” She sighed, turning around as if to walk away.

“What do you mean?” Hannah grabbed her shoulder roughly, narrowing her eyes as a smug grin broke out on Amanda’s face.

“What I mean,” Amanda drawled, “Is that Andrew over there,” She pointed a thumb over her shoulder, the blue team craning around her shoulders to look, “sent a special invite to Akko, who brought the rest of us. But I guess that you wouldn’t know about that.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Hannah said, before her face going white as Andrew kissed Akko’s hand, sputtering as she started dumbfounded at the scene in front of her.

Akko turned to berate a laughing Sucy, meanwhile inside of her bag Diana was fuming. How dare he be so bold, treating Akko like that and then confessing feelings. Her stomach twisted with a strange hot feeling, the words that the boy said echoing in her mind, imagining Akko’s face at the words.

She did not even realize that Akko was running until she heard the noises of her and Sucy arguing as they dashed through the main room, trying to snap her focus back into the moment as Andrew desperately called out for Akko as she ran.

Lotte darted after the bee, running towards Hannah and Barbara as the bee headed for them, both of them glaring at Amanda as she wildly gestured in front of them. She lunged, the bee barely slipping out of her grasp as it stung the two blue team witches, both going stiff before they slumped against Amanda, the American witch supporting them as they both looked up at her, matching adoring expressions on their faces.

“Oh no,” Amanda muttered, the two witches both grabbing one of her arms as Amanda glared at Lotte, the Finnish witch shrugging before taking off to try to grab the cupid bee.

“I’ve always noticed you in class,” Barbara said, clinging to one of her arms, staring at her adoringly.

Hannah huffed as she grasped Amanda’s other arm with one hand, half turned away, “You made it hard to ignore, with how often you interrupt class with your constant rude remarks and showy flying.”

“Why would we care if Andrew wanted to invite Akko here,” Barbara said with a soft smile.

“When we have you here now instead.” Hannah finished, Amanda looking up to see Akko run through the door out of the main hall and into the main mansion, Lotte running around with a fly swatter as Sucy cackled in the corner. Oh no, she thought, this was going to be a long night.

Akko ran down the halls, trying to loose track of Andrew and the rest of the party guests, breathing heavily as she tried to run in the puffy dress. “Where are we going Diana?” she called out, pulling the book from her bag as she ran down the halls.

“Down to your left,” Diana’s voice was clipped and unnaturally cold, Akko silently wondering if she had done anything to make the girl angry or if the witch was just nervous to be back home as she made the abrupt turn, following Diana’s directions.

“Is everything al-”

“Turn right,” Diana interrupted, inwardly frustrated at how she was acting. Of course the boy was going to fall for Akko; how could he not really, cupid bee or no, she was wonderful. Akko was so kind, she radiated passion, and Diana would have to be blind to not confess that Akko was extremely attractive.

Yet here she was acting cold to her best friend over something that she had no control over. Did Akko even consider her her best friend? How could she, when she was trapped in a book for the entire time that they knew each other. The sound of Akko running down the corridor echoed in the halls as Diana struggled with the sudden feeling of guilt.

Akko paused at an intersection, peering down both ways. “Which way Diana?” Silence fell over the two of them, Akko gently speaking again, “Diana? Which way.”

“Oh,” Diana was shook out of her thoughts, trying to refocus her mind the reason that they were here, they had to find the library, and find it before the party was over. “It is just down to the right, my apologies Akko I was lost in thought.”

“It’s fine I know how hard it must be to be back here,” Diana smiled sadly, caught up in the chaos of their rushed entry and then the cupid bee she had completely forgotten where they were; typical of Akko to remember how worried she was to come back. The guilt washed over her again, struck by how caring the witch was towards her.

“Thank you,” she said softly, Akko too focused on running down the hall to notice as they skidded to a stop in front of a large stone door, the structure reaching the ceiling with intricate carvings in it. “This is it,” Diana said breathlessly, Akko stepping forward and reverently putting her hands on the door.

There were no handles, noting to suggest a way in, as Akko pushed, feeling a slight rumble; however the door refused to move. She strained, putting her back to the door as she pushed, digging her feet into the stone floor as she scrambled, trying to get the door to move even the slightest bit.

She dropped to the floor, panting as she leaned up against the door exhausted. She groaned as she turned to the side, something catching the corner of her eye. She held Diana’s journal in one hand to give her a better view as she traced the carvings, both of them gasping as they stopped at a large carving.

“Oh no,” Diana breathed out, shocked at the sight that they saw. On one side of the door, carved into stone was a large unicorn. Akko reached out, touching the head of the unicorn, both staring at the horn, which had been broken off, leaving only jagged green slivers of stone. Akko looked over to the other side, confirming that both of the unicorns that flanked the door had their horns broken off.

“The door is not complete,” Diana said morosely, “Usually it would sense the presence of a Cavendish, but the magic cannot work if it is broken.” Everything started to feel far away, she had just gotten her hopes up on finding a new clue, and maybe finding something in the library that could give her closure.

She didn’t hear Akko’s voice as the girl tried to reach out to her, tried to see what was wrong. Footsteps echoed from down the hall as Akko whirled around, muttering to herself as she took off down the hall, inwardly apologizing to Diana as she tried to get away from whoever was coming down the hall.

She darted into the first room she saw, hiding behind the door as the footsteps walked by, holding her breath in anticipation. The footsteps faded into the distance as Akko looked up and paused, seeing a large portrait hanging over the fireplace. “Diana,” she said, “You should see this.”

“What,” Diana looked up, the words dying in her throat. Hanging above a small fire place was a portrait of her and her mother. A strangled noise left her throat as everything hit her at once; her mother was gone, her future as the head of the Cavendish family was dashed, the entrance to her families sanctum ruined, everything that happened to her crashing down all at once with this reminder.

Akko’s eyes widened as she moved over to the bed, sitting down as she opened the book up to look at Diana, the blonde girl’s shoulders shaking as she took rough breaths. “Diana,” she said softly, “that was you and your mom huh?” Diana nodded, “I’m so sorry,” Akko reached out, touching the cool glass and wishing that she could comfort the other witch.

At that gesture something in Diana broke, finding herself overcome with emotions she felt the need to cry. Nothing happened, Diana shaking with dry sobs, as she cried out in frustration. “I cannot even cry in this body Akko, I cannot mourn outwardly for my own mother; I cannot turn away when it becomes too much.”

“I was supposed to finish Luna Nova, come back, and take my place as the head of the family.” She smiled sadly, staring at her own hands and then back up at Akko, “I would go through those doors, and come out with the blessing of my ancestors, then I could make my mother proud of me, I would finally be able to live for me, not what my family decided for me. My entire family always looked down on me, the youngest daughter, always struggling with magic, always too happy to show off the magic she had learned. They never saw magic the way I did, something actually…”

“Fun.” The two of them finished at the same time, looking up and locking eyes, Diana taken back by the determined look in Akko’s eyes.

“Your dream,” Akko breathed out, her eyes full of wonder and alight with determination, “It’s like mine.” Diana could do nothing but nod, lost in the other witch’s eyes.

“That’s why I love Chariot,” Akko continued, “When I saw her as a child I felt like magic was something beautiful, something that should be shared with everyone. I want to bring that joy to everyone,” Akko locked eyes with Diana, both of them feeling a tingling feeling in the pit of their stomach, “I want to bring that joy to you.” Akko breathed out, Diana’s stomach doing flips as she stayed there stunned, lost in Akko’s words and soft smile.

“We are going to get you out of that book Diana,” Akko said with a bright grin, leaping off of the bed to pose dramatically, reaching a hand out towards Diana, “And then we are going to come back here, and make sure that you get your family name back, I promise.”

Diana stared at the outstretched hand, her heart skipping a beat as she felt her vision narrow, all that was left was just the image of Akko reaching out her hand. Her eyes widened, a breath catching in her throat as equal parts of dread and hope welled up within her.

By the nine old witches, she thought, unable to stop herself from breaking out into a smile despite her inner conflict, she was falling in love with Akko.

Chapter Text

It was rare for Diana to dream; even before she had been locked inside of the book she was never one to experience it, but every since the disastrous party, Diana found herself dreaming, or rather, reliving the same memory night after night.

She tried to squeeze her eyes shut, trying to avoid watching the memory as the familiar scene started to play out in front of her.

“Diana,” The voice of her aunt echoed in her mind, shaking her head in a vain attempt to wake up. “Can you explain what this is.” Diana cracked open her eyes, seeing her Aunt in front of her, holding Diana’s journal in her hand.

“Daryl,” Diana tried to sound as aloof and cold as possible, “How do you have that, it’s private.” Diana heard herself respond to her Aunt, her heart sinking in her chest as she mouthed the response along with her memory. She knew how this memory played out, she had repeated it many times since it had played out in real life.

“As your guardian,” Daryl’s smile was knowing as she opened up the journal, “I am responsible for ensuring the Cavendish legacy, and that involves making sure that you are doing your part for the family.”

Her smile only widened as she flipped through the pages slowly, “What would give you the impression that I am not doing everything I can to ensure my mother’s legacy.” Diana’s shoulders stiffened almost imperceptibly, the only thing betraying her nervousness.

The smirk on Daryl’s face widened, a raised eyebrow accompanying it as she cleared her throat. “I can no longer hide these thoughts from even myself,” She started to read from the journal, Diana’s face paling as she continued, “I know not if my mother would have approved, although I am certain that my aunt will not.” Diana’s eyes closed, fists trembling.

“However a witch must be true to oneself, as I am being here. Even though it pains me to say it, there is no way that I can truly carry out your legacy mother, I-”

Diana scowled as she grabbed the book, trying to make her voice strong to hide the frantic beating of her heart. “That is enough.” She said, glaring at her aunt before stalking away, pausing at the door, “I will be the head of the Cavendish family, I swear that, I will honor my mothers name.”

Daryl scoffed, “Do you really think that your mother would be okay with some deviant-” She was cut off by a loud bang as Diana slammed her hand onto the door frame, whirling around and narrowing her eyes at her aunt. The journal fell from her hands as she clenched both of them tightly.

“That is enough!” she drew herself up, trying to look as regal as possible, desperately clinging to any composure that she had left. “You want to talk about the state of this family, then we will. Look at what you have done, you mistreat the staff, you hoc our family relics at auction and hover over any rich family like a vulture.” She sneered, bitterness entering her tone, “You are the one who is ruining this family Daryl, and tomorrow I am going to complete the ritual and become the head of this family.”

She stalked off down the hall, breathing heavily as she tried to keep her emotions together. Daryl watched her go, slowly walking over to the door and grabbing the journal, snapping it closed as she glared at the back of Diana’s head.

“We shall see dear niece, we shall see.”

The sound of rustling and banging woke Diana up, snapping her out of her memory as she took a moment to try to collect her thoughts. She was at Luna Nova, she wasn’t back at home.

She let out a shuddering sigh as she looked around the dorm room, seeing Akko gathering up her things for the day as Lotte and Sucy waited by the door.

Akko stopped as she went by the desk, giving a cheery good morning to Diana as the blond witch felt herself almost shrink under the warm greeting, closing her eyes to avoid seeing Akko’s face fall.

The words of her Aunt and her cousins echoed in her head. “Deviant,” she heard Akko’s slow footsteps start to leave the room, “what would your mother think.” The low murmurs of conversation as the red team left the room, Diana releasing a breath she didn't know that she was holding in as they left, feeling guilt and shame rush through her, wishing that she had just a shred of bravery to call out after the forlorn witch.

Ever since the red team had returned from the disastrous party, all of them left disappointed for various ways, empty handed with no new information to be found. The dreams started then, becoming clearer each night and causing her to become much more withdrawn during the day time.

Whenever she saw Akko she would become flushed, the sight of the cute excitable witch causing her to clam up, but the voices of her Aunt and family would start to repeat the same words over and over in her head, and she would shut down. She couldn’t even tell Akko what was wrong, even though she had tried to ask, over and over again, becoming more and more disheartened when Diana would just screw her eyes shut and shake her head.

It had hurt, Diana thought, when Akko had given up trying to ask what was wrong, but she couldn’t blame her; a week of trying to pry an answer out of Diana with no response had hurt them both, she was sure of that. She knew that Akko had made no more progress on any of the words, and that she was selected as the sacrifice for the Samhain festival, which started later tonight. Akko had not stopped talking to her at night, telling her all about her day, and ending with an update that she was trying her hardest to find the words. Diana would wait till she was sure that Akko was asleep, the witch’s soft snores cluing her in of the fact before she would apologize, the words that she wished she could say to Akko’s face spilling out at night, leaving her feeling worse.

She let out a mournful sigh as the door swung open, rolling her eyes to herself as Amanda walked in. The other thing that had changed, Diana noted, was that the Green team had been brought into the secret of the words and of Diana’s curse.

The three witches had taken the news well, Amanda now deciding that she would make the cursed witch’s life hell, ever since she caught on that she was avoiding talking to Akko.

“Hey Cavendish, I passed Akko in the hallway, she looked like a kicked puppy, you still avoiding her then?”

Diana grumbled as Amanda dropped down onto the bed, opening up the journal to see Diana before leaning back and raising an eyebrow at the mirror, waiting a few moments in silence. “You gonna avoid me too now?”

“No.”

“She speaks,” Amanda said in mock shock, placing a hand over her chest, faking surprise. She rolled her eyes, “Alright Cavendish, its been over a week, and everyone is tired of this run around act that you have going on, so tell me what’s actually going on, I am sure that it is not as bad as the list of crazy theories that Akko has thought up.”

“She has theories about me?” Diana felt her self say, forgetting in her curiosity that she was trying to keep silent.

“Yeah,” Amanda laughed, “Everything from Diana’s curse is getting worse and she can’t speak, to that she is pushing you too hard, to the idea that there is a second curse placed on you by vengeful family members keeping you from talking.”

Diana cringed, Amanda picking up on that as she leaned forward, a smug grin creeping across her face. “Oh, did I hit a nerve there?”

“And if you did?”

“Don’t really care,” Amanda shrugged and leaned back again, “But she is getting down about it, if you ask me she should just give up.”

Diana felt her heart drop, her voice weak as she turned her head to the side. “Maybe she should,” she said. These feelings would only bring Akko down, she was not only trapped inside of a book for however long the curse would last. Not only that, she could ruin Akko’s relationship with her family, or with the magical world at large. She would never forgive herself if her feelings caused Akko to loose any of her standing.

“Okay fuck this,” Diana sputtered as Amanda stood up, placing both hands on the desk, “I am tired of seeing this weird dance thing you two have going on. You have a crush on her huh?”

“Wha… what do you mean crush?” Diana asked confused.

“I forgot that you are some kind of repressed nerd from the ancient times.” Amanda rolled her eyes, Diana sputtering in anger. “I mean that you have romantic feelings for Akko, you want to kiss her, or even take her to your-”

“Amanda!” Diana yelled, bright red as she crossed her arms, “You can not just say those things, what if…” she stopped, her eyes darting around the room.

“If someone heard me?” Amanda scoffed, “So what everyone at Luna Nova should know that I am into girls. If they don’t then they have their heads further up their ass than you.”

Diana blinked, starting at the other girl who was leaning back, looking at her nails as she casually picked them.

“And they let you stay?” Diana whispered, the tone of her voice causing Amanda to focus in on the conversation.

“Yeah,” she said cocking her head in confusion, “who cares if I am a lesbian, there are plenty of them here.” She leaned in conspiratorially, “I am pretty sure that Professor Ursula is one too, she seems like she bats for our team.”

“Bats for… who?”

“Right, gotta phrase it like Sappho,” she said with a slight laugh, “Yearns for the company of the feminine type.”

“How do you know I-” Diana clapped her hands over her mouth, her eyes widening in fear.

“I’m not gonna tell anyone,” Amanda said, shrugging her shoulders, “I am not that much of an asshole. Plus I can tell you had a bad time with family and all that. I mean, rich family and all. Us rich kid rejects have to stick together.”

“Have things really changed that much?” Diana asked, not even meaning to say it out loud. If her feelings were not seen as wrong, if she could actually feel them without risking any wrath falling on her or Akko. Relief welled up in her, blinking away tears that never came.

“I have been such an idiot.” She said, Amanda smiling as she patted the book cover.

“Yeah, but at least you know that now.” She said, “You gonna talk to her now?” Diana nodded, Amanda sighing in relief as she fell back on the bed. “Thank the nine, I didn’t want to put up with this much longer. You can tell her before the festival tonight or something.” She said, yawning, “Your gay angst made me tired so I’m gonna nap before this festival thing,” she waved her hand in the air flippantly, “You meditate on your gay thoughts or whatever.”

Diana blushed at the statement, but was unable to restrain the grin that found its way on her face. If only Daryl could see me now, she thought, laughing to herself. Maybe being trapped in that book was not so bad, she thought, she found herself in a time where she could live how she wanted, and found some true friends as well.

I’ll make this up to you Akko, she thought, thinking of what she was going to say to the excitable witch, I promise.

“Wonderful job Akko!” Professor Ursula called out, Akko’s lips turning up momentarily before her face fell. Ursula called her over to the side of the courtyard, Akko trudging over slowly.

“Your metamorphosis magic has been progressing rapidly, in no time at all you will be ready for the Samhain festival.” Ursula gave an encouraging grin to her student, her face falling into a confused look as Akko plopped down beside her on a bench, her mind seeming to be miles away and a pensive look on her face.

“Is everything alright Akko? Thinking about the festival? I am sure you will do fine.” Ursula patted Akko on the shoulder, the young witch slumping in her seat slightly.

“Professor?” Akko’s voice was hesitant, “Have you ever had a friend that started acting weird? Like they just start to avoid you?”

Thoughts of that morning had run through her head, of Diana’s unusually cold voice, sounding like she was trying to mask something as she repeatedly told Akko that everything was okay.

Ursula let out a long breath, her mind flashing images of purple hair, a confident smirk, long nights in the library studying magic and frantically searching for the words. She looked up at the spires of Luna Nova, her mind half in the past as she answered, “Yes, I had a close friend, and we did everything together, but one day…” she trailed off, starting at Akko, “Something happened and we just, drifted apart.”

Ursula felt guilt twist her stomach, guilt over her relationship falling apart, and guilt over this girl who was sitting there, so full of love for magic, yet with so little magical power. If she had just figured out what was happening sooner, maybe everything could be different.

“If I had only told her how I actually felt, how much it hurt to see her slowly drifting away. All of my regrets…” she trailed off, smiling sadly, “I guess I just wish I had told her how I felt, and how her avoiding me made me feel.”

“What if they still do avoid you, even after that?” Ursula sighed at the question, her mind turning to memories of that night, hurled lab equipment, screaming at each other over overturned tables full of research.

“Any friendship requires good communication,” Ursula put a comforting hand on Akko’s shoulder and squeezed gently in support. “All you can do is let them know you are there for them, that you want to help.”

Akko’s face twisted into a half grin half grimace as Ursula let out a soft laugh, waving her wand as magic swirled between the two, “See Akko magic is easy, its people that are hard.”

Her words got a laugh out of the young witch, waving her wand to copy her professor as a small stream of sparks trailed after it, Akko gazing in wonder at the magic.

She stared at the magic swirling around, if only she could show Diana this, if she could just sit here with her and practice magic together. All she wanted was to get through to the witch, she felt alone when ever Diana ignored her, and it caused something deep in her stomach to twinge. What was that feeling? Why did she feel so alone when she had other’s outside of Diana there with her?

Diana didn’t have anyone else, and hadn’t for a while. Akko nodded to herself in determination, whatever was going on with her friend was something that she was clearly not comfortable talking about, but she was going to be there for her, no matter what.

She stood up, thanking Professor Ursula as she ran off, the chimes of Luna Nova echoing after her. She still had enough time before the festival, and she had a plan.

The dorm room was quite, Diana sighing as she stared around the room. Akko was probably getting ready for the festival to happen right now, not that she had been any help with that. The door flew open as Akko ran in, bolting over to the desk and giving Diana a nervous smile.

“Hey Diana,” she said, shifting foot to foot, “The festival starts soon, and I need to head there but I wanted to see you.” Diana was stunned into silence, Akko was here, and still trying, she hadn’t messed it all up yet.

“I’m gonna make Vajarois laugh, she needs to see the joy of magic, just like everyone else.” Her smile was soft and sad, and it seemed to call out to Diana, the blond witch dumbly blinking at the girl.

“I want you to be there,” Akko said, determination burning in her eyes, “I know that something is going on, and we need to talk about it, and I don’t want to push you to open up further than you are comfortable, but at least come to the Samhain festival.”

She turned to go, Diana about to open her mouth as Amanda sat up on the bed from where she had been laying down, giving Akko a thumbs up as she left.

“Good luck,” Diana called after Akko, the girl turning around and smiling as she pumped her arm up in victory, almost stumbling over herself before she took off down the halls, a new skip in her step.

“Come on Cavendish, we are have a festival to get to.” Amanda said, raising an eyebrow at her as if to challenge her to say no.

“What are you waiting for O’Neil.” Diana said back, a matching expression on her face and a slight smile, “We do not wish to be late.”

Amanda sighed in relief, picking up the journal as she left the room, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like ‘thank the nine.’ The two witches meeting up with the green team as they made their way down towards the arena.

Akko paced behind the stage, her shoes scuffing against the wood stage as she waited with Lotte and Sucy for the ceremony to start.

“Everything will be fine,” Lotte said, watching the witch frantically pace.

“Yeah, all we have to do is get eaten, its an easy job,” Sucy smiled wide, both witches shivering at the unnatural grin on her face.

“Well we aren’t going to do that,” Akko said, still pacing, “You all know the plan right?”

“We have been over the plan five times by now,” Sucy complained, rolling her eyes as she pulled out a mushroom, chewing on it as they waited to be called.

“One more time won’t-”

“And now!” the voice of Wangari, the announcer for the evening, cut through Akko’s statement, “For the last act of the night, we have the red team, please welcome them out as they preform the roles of tonights sacrifices!”

The crowd gave half hearted cheers as Akko clutched onto the Shiny Rod, turning to the rest of the red team. “Let’s do this.”

Diana couldn’t look away from the spirit Vajarois, her breath caught in her throat in anticipation. Akko and the rest of the red team had just been swallowed up by the spirit, having led it on a chase as Akko did her best to try to get the spirit to laugh.

The metamorphosis magic that Akko had done, flying through the air as different animals while avoiding the spirit, was fantastic. The extra lessons that she had been putting in having paid off in a massive way.

There was silence as the spirit mournfully cried, the entire audience waiting with baited breath for something to happen.

“Arae Aryrha!” Light shone from Vajarois, the rays lighting up the entire area as Diana watched, the green team all standing in stunned silence. Akko’s voice seemed to echo from within the spirit, the words tugging oh Diana’s heart.

Akko was inside of that spirit, trying to overturn years of traditions just because she wanted to share joy with the world. The waves of light coming from Vajaros washed over them, suddenly Diana was standing right next to the green team, Amanda looking over and jumping in surprise at her sudden appearance.

It felt like Diana was there with Akko, the words she was saying audible to her, even from her position outside the spirit. “You’re friends don’t want you to be sad, they want you be happy, to be free. So come on, lets smile together.” The light intensified from inside of the spirit, the beams of light lancing out, one of them shooting through Diana. All of the sudden she felt a wave of emotions wash over her; hope, sadness, and a burning feeling, all three emotions swirling around in her as she shed a single tear, covering her mouth in realization.

Vajarois exploded, the harsh light fading to show Akko standing, facing the spirit, the two sharing a moment before the spirit seemed to fade into thin air, a momentary silence overcoming everyone before Akko’s shouts of joy broke through, the witch grabbed her teammates and sobbed in relief and joy.

“So,” Amanda looked over at her smugly, a grin on her face, “You finally figure it out?”

“Yes,” Diana said, moving her hand away from her mouth, her eyes trained on the Akko standing in the middle of the field, clutching her teammates to her. The magical light from the spell still hung in the air, framing the whole scene as Diana felt tears well in her eyes.

“I have to live for myself, and support the people closest to me, just as they do to me.” Her lips quirked into a small smile as she felt her body start to fade with the magic, “and if I can help Akko see how wonderful her magic is, then I’ll support her however I can. I will not let my family control me, not anymore.”

She closed her eyes, feeling the last bit of magic fade from the air, and when she opened them again she found her perspective had shifted back to looking out of the book. Amanda giving her a wry smile. “Come on Cavendish, lets get you back to your girl.”

“She is not my girl.” Diana said indigently, flustered as she sputtered over the words, “That is highly in-”

“Yeah yeah, all witches should have class, be uptight.” She picked up the journal and started making her way toward Akko, “Just admit that if you had lips you would want to kiss our lovable idiot.”

Diana sputtered, unable to say anything as she flushed with embarrassment, Amanda cackling as Diana just muttered, “She is not an idiot.” Amanda only laughed harder, walking up and throwing an arm around Akko’s shoulder in celebration.

Wangari swooped down on her broom, pulling up along side the red team. “What a surprising performance!” she cried out, tossing her microphone between her hands, “No one saw that conclusion to tonight's festival! Stick around for the announcement of the moonlight witch!”

Clicking the microphone off she turned to the red team, “Sorry about this Akko, but the judges have disqualified you.” Akko’s face fell suddenly, Amanda immediately leaping to her defense.

“What do you mean disqualified!” Amanda yelled, Diana having to hold back a similar shout.

“Hold on a minute,” Wangari waved her hands in front of her, “It’s not my decision, I thought the performance was great. The judges said that it was not in the rules however, so disqualified.” She shrugged, flying away as she flew up towards the judges table.

Amanda stomped angrily as Akko reached out, resting an arm on her shoulder as she shook her head, clutching onto the shiny rod as she started to walk back towards the dorms.

“Wait,” Diana softly said, Amanda hearing her and racing up to Akko, pressing Diana’s journal into her hands before heading back to the rest of the red and green teams with a small salute.

“Diana…” Akko murmured, what was she doing here. After being so distant from Akko all week all that she could think about while getting ready for the festival was the blond witch.

She had been trying to think about why she was so sad for the few days that Diana had been avoiding her. When she had been in Vajoros she was not only speaking to the spirit when she said that she wanted Vajorois to be free, she was hoping that somehow her words would reach Diana, and maybe convince the witch to talk to her, to let her in.

“Not here Akko, back in the room.” Diana’s voice was soft, trying not to get heard amongst the students that were mingling around. Akko clutched the shiny rod and Diana to her chest, hurrying inside of the building; she didn’t wait to here the announcement of the moonlight witch, the loud cheers muffled as she darted into the dormitory.

Racing up to her room she quickly opened the journal to Diana’s mirror, smiling softly as she saw Diana, “Hey.”

“Hey,” Diana laughed softly, covering her mouth with her hand as Akko found herself blushing at the sound. “I am sorry Akko,” she said, the ghost of a smile still on her face. “I should not have avoided you, I should have been there to help you for the festival, instead of pushing you away when you tried to help. Being back home reminded me of my family, and I have been thinking about the night I got cursed, I did not want to pull you into that with me.”

“It’s okay,” Akko said, feeling the stress from the past few days melt away, “I forget sometimes how you are still adjusting. But you should know that I am always going to be there if you need anything, you are my friend, and I care about you.” She rubbed her hand on her neck as she smiled, “It just seems like I have known you for much longer.”

Diana felt her heart clench, “I feel that way too,” both of them fell into a comfortable silence, both relieved to be talking again.

“Friends?” Akko said, reaching a hand out, her fingers brushing against the cold mirror.

Reaching out her hand Diana placed her hand where Akko’s fingers touched the glass, the knot in her stomach twisting harder as she smiled softly, “You never stopped being my dearest friend Akko.”

Akko felt a hot feeling in her stomach, an immediate feeling of regret coming over her, what was this feeling? She had finally fixed whatever was going on with Diana, so why did she feel a like a knife was plunged into her gut when she heard Diana call her a friend?

“I saw your performance,” Diana’s voice shocked her out of her thoughts, staring at the blond witch as she smiled at her, a wide grin on her face. “You should have been moonlight witch.”

Akko felt her breath catch in her throat, the burning feeling spreading through her stomach and chest as Diana continued.

“I heard you,” she said, Akko’s eyes widening, “Maybe it was the magic of the Shiny Rod letting me out of the book for a moment, and connecting me to it.” She shrugged slightly, her smile softening, “but I heard you, everything you said to Vajorois, your strength of belief in your friends, wanting to share your joy in magic, I felt it all.”

Time seemed to slow for Akko, Diana’s words registering in her mind as things started to fall into place for her. Why she had been so sad when Diana was avoiding her, why she was so driven to save the girl from the book, why her breath seemed to catch in her throat every time that Diana laughed.

“You’re love of magic is beautiful Akko,” Diana continued, Akko focusing in on her piercing blue eyes, “You deserve to be the moonlight witch, and you deserve so much more than that. Your magic is wonderful, and it can bring so much joy to everyone. It has to me.”

The feeling of her heart beating against her chest amplified as tears pooled in her eyes, smiling gratefully at Diana. She wanted to tell her that she could only think of her while casting the spell, wanted to say that every moment that Diana pushed her away her heart called out for her to come back.

“Thank you,” Akko managed to say, matching Diana’s smile, the two falling into a comfortable silence. Well, Akko thought, no use in denying it, besides, she thought with a smile, there were much worse things than being in love with Diana Cavendish.

Chapter Text

Lotte curled up on the large chair in the library, sighing contentedly over a cup of tea as she called a spirit out of her cauldron, the small green spirit swirling around her head as Lotte greeted them; the spirit settled onto her shoulder as Lotte cracked open the latest volume of Nightfall.

She was well past due for a break, the week after Samhain was packed full of extra work to try to catch up with schoolwork as well as Akko pushing both the red and green team to find as much information as possible about the seven words. Lotte was always happy to help out her friends, but sometimes she needed a moment of rest.

Only a few pages into her reading the sound of shuffling feet and a small cough made Lotte look up, interrupting her before she got into the flow of her reading. She glanced up, the greeting on her lips dying out as she saw Barbara standing in front of her, giving an uncomfortable wave when she realized that Lotte was looking at her.

“Hi,” the blue team witch said, Lotte blinking up at her in confusion, Barbara gesturing towards her Nightfall book, “Is that the newest one, I have been meaning to get to it but with the festival and everything…” she trailed off, Lotte noticing the excitement that had entered her voice when she mentioned Nightfall.

“Yeah,” Lotte said, giving her a small smile, trying to break the tension, “Do you want to sit?”

Barbara sighed in relief, sitting in the comfortable chair next to Lotte, “Thanks, I know that our teams haven’t been, well the friendliest.” She cringed slightly, trying to look apologetic as Lotte nodded.

An awkward silence fell over the two of them, Lotte trying to figure out what to say, watching Barbara fidget next to her. She opened her mouth to ask the black-haired witch what she needed when Barbara interrupted her.

“Your team should have won the moonlight witch,” she blurted out, her eyes downcast as she continued, “your, I mean, Akko’s magic was amazing, and we,” she flinched as she said that, “well I at least know that the disqualification was bull.”

Lotte blinked in surprise, “Really?” she couldn’t stop herself from blurting out, “But your team’s summoning was very good.”

“Thanks,” Barbara’s lips turned up in a slight smile, “But it was just good, meanwhile the three of you released Vajarois from her curse, and the magic…” she trailed off, her lips forming a wide smile.

“I know what you mean,” Lotte matched her smile, “Akko’s magic feels different from everything else doesn’t it.” Barbara nodded slowly, before her expression fell again and she looked back down at her lap.

“Hannah knows it too,” a note of sadness crept into her voice at the mention of the other blue team member, “She won’t admit it but I can tell, I always have been able to tell with her.”

Lotte quietly marked her page in her novel, giving her spirit a small scratch as they slipped away into her cauldron, her book put aside as she turned to face the other witch. “You two are close aren’t you, like,”

“Arthur and Edgar,” Barbra finished, her expression softening. “We have known each other since we were kids, and I mean Avery is great, and a strong part of the blue team, but…”

“She’s no Belle,” Lotte chimed in, Barbara bursting into laughter as she tried to contain herself, the librarian peering around the corner to quite her.

“Yeah, she is a good witch she just, there is something missing in the team. We can talk to her, but not about everything, not about this.” she calmed down, “But Hannah is still trying to figure it out, things have been weird since the bee incident,” Barbra flushed, a small stutter in her voice, “She doesn’t like to talk about it, but I, well I can’t stop thinking about that, and then the magic, and I just…” she breathed deep turning to meet Lotte’s eyes, “I want to apologize, to you, and to Akko, but I don’t know how to do it.”

Lotte blinked, stunned and trying to find the words to respond, Barbara casting her nervous looks every few moments. “Well,” she started, “Akko doesn’t hold a grudge,” Barbra seemed to relax a bit at her words, Lotte continuing, “You probably just have to tell her what you told me, and probably admit that Shiny Chariot is a good witch,” she smiled as Barbara cringed, the blue team witch nodding resignedly.

“I guess its the least I could do huh?” She stood up from her chair, sighing slightly to herself as she turned around, flashing Lotte a smile, “Thanks, now I just have to convince Hannah,” she said, a tired grin on her face, giving Lotte a wave as she quickly walked away.

Lotte leaned back and sighed, her spirit sticking their head out of the cauldron as she smiled down at them, the setting sun streaming through the windows and making her squint to focus as the beams of light illuminated the slowly floating motes of dust. “Well no reading to be done here, maybe we can read in the dorm room huh,” she said to her spirit as she picked them up, thinking for a moment about her roommates, images of Akko’s wild enthusiasm and Sucy standing over a boiling cauldron popping into her mind as she sighed, “Probably not,” she muttered to herself as she left the library, but it was worth a shot to try to read after lights out.

“Psst,” Lotte let her book fall onto her face in surprise, peeking over the fallen book as she tried to fix her glasses, blinking out of her reading state. A shadowy figure of a head stood in silhouette against the soft candle light coming from Sucy’s desk, a small cauldron bubbling softly as Sucy snored away next to it.

“Akko?” Lotte squinted through her glasses as she slowly made out Akko’s face, the normally excitable witch with a slightly nervous expression on her face, “What is going on,” she blinked owlishly as she looked at the time, “It’s almost midnight is everything okay?” Akko put her finger over her mouth, gesturing for Lotte to climb down as she tip toed towards the door.

Lotte dragged herself out of her bunk, clumsily making her way down the small steps and sluggishly following Akko out the dorm, “Akko, what are you doing up at this time?” she asked again the witch just putting a finger over her lips and waving Lotte into a side room, both of them entering and finding Amanda already there, leaning up against the wall as she stifled a yawn.

“What are we doing here Akko,” she said grumpily, giving a lazy wave to Lotte, “I have to practice for the race coming up in a few weeks and I need sleep.”

Akko peeked out the door, both witches looking at her in confusion as she checked to make sure that no one was around. She turned around, closing the door as she faced them in the empty room. “I have a problem.” She began to pace back and forth in front of the two of them, Amanda letting out a bored yawn.

“What about Sucy?” Lotte said, tilting her head slightly, “why just us?”

“I tried to wake Sucy,” Akko said, a pained wince on her face as she rubbed her neck, “She said that she would feed me a potion to make me loose my sense of smell if I didn’t let her sleep.” She said with a nervous chuckle, Lotte nodding along, a small part of her brain wondering when this became the new normal for her.

“What about Diana?” Amanda said, a wide grin crossing her face as she noticed Akko wince slightly, “oh?” she said, kicking off the wall as a glint appeared in her eyes, “What is it you don’t want her to know huh?”

“N-Nothing” Akko stammered out, clearing her throat, “What I wanted to ask was-”

“How to get her to kiss you?” Amanda interrupted, checking her nails as she gave Akko a glance, her eyebrow raised.

“Yeah, but more-” Akko froze, her brain automatically giving an answer before she froze, flushing crimson as she stammered, “I mean, no, but, I…” she put her heads into her hands as Amanda laughed, Lotte giving a small chuckle as she walked over and patted Akko on the back.

“You are not the best at hiding these things Akko,” she said, “It’s sweet.”

Akko groaned into her hands, Lotte and Amanda exchanging a look as they waited patiently, Amanda holding up her fingers as she pantomimed a countdown. Right on time as she reached zero, Akko bolted back up, pacing slightly as she started to ramble.

“She is just, so nice, and sweet, and she loves magic just like I do.” She collapsed against the wall, letting out a long sigh, “ And she is so supportive and pretty, she helped me even before she knew anything about me.” Her eyes took on a far away look, her voice growing soft, “And she is so sad, and I don’t want her to be.”

“Wow, you got it bad huh,” Amanda said, the two other witches going over to Akko and flanking her on either side, the brunette witch nodding resignedly as Amanda patted her on the shoulder.

“What do you need our help for,” Lotte asked, Akko mumbling into her hands, both witches leaning in to try to hear her.

“Wha-”

“I said I don’t know what to do,” Akko whined, interrupting Amanda as she threw her head back, “What could I even do in this situation, do I take her on dates, what happens if she gets mad, what gifts do you get a girl stuck in a book?” she began to ramble, getting caught up in her thoughts as Amanda started to silently laugh.

Akko gasped, turning to Lotte and grabbing her hands, “How do you kiss a book without ruining it? Should I be worried about paper-cuts?” she asked frantically, a wild look in her eyes as Amanda bent over laughing.

“Wh-why are you asking me?” Lotte stammered, flushing at the question.

“I mean I see you reading all the time, and sometimes you sleep with a book over your face, so I figured you must know something. Plus you sometimes make weird kissing faces at your books.” She said, tilting her head as if the answer was obvious before sighing in defeat.

“It’s useless, I just want to find a way to help her, and If I could see her in person maybe I could figure out what to say to her.” Akko sighed, a unusually serious expression on her face.

“You know I got to see her.” Amanda said, Akko whipping her head up to stare at her, “yeah at the festival, when you did that magic I saw some lights and looked over and there was Ms Brooding herself.”

Akko pouted and mumbled, “She doesn’t brood she contemplates,” she grumbled out, glaring at Amanda slightly. Lotte covered her hand to keep from laughing as Akko tried to stop Amanda’s teasing.

“Well, the more words you find the closer you can get to figuring it out,” Lotte said, Akko turning to look at her, “I mean, if you are worried about dating her when she is stuck in a book, then you just have to figure out the rest of the words and then you can see her and ask her out in person.”

“Yes!” Akko jumped up and hit her fist into her hand in determination, “That is a great idea, I have to go ask Professor Ursula right away!” Akko bolted through the door, Lotte running to the door as she peeked her head out, watching Akko run down the hall.

“Akko!” she whispered loudly, trying not to wake anyone as she called after the witch, “Not now its after curfew.” Her words fell upon deaf ears as she watched Akko round the corner, letting out a sigh as she leaned her head against the door.

“She has no concept of patience huh?” Amanda walked by her, shaking her head slightly, “I’m going to make sure that she doesn’t get another detention, hopefully she figures something out before she goes crazy.” Amanda waved as she took off after Akko, mumbling about never being able to get any sleep anymore.

Lotte went back into the dorm room, yawning as she slowly climbed up to the top bunk, looking at her still open book and blushing slightly as she remembered what Akko had said. Maybe I’ve done enough reading for a while, she thought, slowly putting her book away as she crawled under the covers, sleep taking her as soon as her head hit the pillow.

“I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier!” Akko yelled as she burst through the door, startling the rest of the red team as they sat around the dorm, Sucy fumbling with a potion vial as she turned and glared at Akko, the witch ignoring the stare as she jumped onto her bunk, rooting around in her bags.

Sucy, Lotte, and Diana exchanged glances, the two red team witches moving closer, dodging out of the way of cloths as Akko flung them over her shoulder, flinching backwards in surprise as Akko triumphantly held up a strange looking device, both witches looking at it with a curious expression. “What is that,” Sucy pointed toward the slim grey rectangle that Akko was holding aloft.

“It’s a laptop.” She stated, opening the device up as the screen on it lit up, “It’s sort of like the crystal ball net, but not for magic.” She pumped her fist as she saw the wifi signal connect, thankful that someone, probably Constanze, had managed to get signal to here. “I figured that if we checked both places we could find something, especially after Professor Ursula told me the next word.”

Lotte pulled out her crystal ball, her spirit darting out and entering the ball as it powered on, “What does she mean, net? Crystal ball?” Diana said, peering at the devices. Akko grabbed her laptop and moved over next to the journal, tilting the screen to show Diana.

“It lets you search for any information that you can think of,” Akko said, her fingers moving across several buttons as Diana looked on entranced, “I can show you Shiny Chariot’s performance!” She started rambling as Diana watched the screen, her eyes trying to take in as much as possible on the strange glowing device.

The crystal ball made several soft chimes, pulling Lotte’s attention to it as she read the messages that hovered on the screen. “Hey Akko,” Lotte called over towards her, “Did Professor Ursula say anything about the next word?”

“She said that it was close by to the heart, and that I needed to find something that I lacked in order to figure out the meaning of the word.”

“Did she give any specifics, that is a long list,” Sucy deadpanned, Akko pouting at her as she laughed at her own joke.

“Do you think we can put that search off? My parents invited me for a traditional meal and want me to bring my friends,” Lotte asked, Akko immediately perking up at the mention of traveling.

“Sure,” she said, placing the laptop down, already moving over to pull her trunk out from under her bed. “Plus family is the closest think to the heart, and the last clues were things like that.” She cast a glance over at Diana, her face momentarily growing serious. “Family should be that at least,” she muttered, Lotte only barely able to pick up on the words that she said.

“Besides!” Akko cheered back up, a wide grin back on her face, “What is the worst that could happen with just a small trip?”

It turned out that the trip could go quite bad, Lotte thought, watching Akko hurry off with the supplies for the cure to Greenman’s disease, the moss slowly overtaking her vision. Sucy was leaning against the tree, a content smile on her face as she was trying to place mushrooms in the moss that had already overtaken her legs, softly humming to herself. Diana’s journal was half overtaken by the moss, the magic of the disease seeming to overtake her as well. Her glasses clouded over with green moss as she heard Akko call behind her that she would be back soon before her vision went black.

She really had to stop Akko from tempting fate any more, she thought before she felt drowsiness overtake her and she fell into a deep sleep.

The moss surrounding her burst suddenly, Lotte drawing in a deep breath as she looked over to see Sucy next to her. She looked around, noting that she was back in her room, inwardly thanking Akko for moving her and Sucy back inside. A smaller puff of moss burst next to her, startling her as magic swirled beside her, both her and Sucy looking over as the magic formed into a human shape.

All of the light seemed to swirl and fill in the outline, a large burst of light flashing before it cleared, revealing Diana sitting on Lotte’s bed. She looked at her hands, and then back up at Lotte and Sucy, “Oh, hello.” She gave a small wave and a nervous smile as she stuck her hand out in greeting.

“It’s good to meet you outside of a book,” Lotte shook Diana’s hand, the girl pulling her hand away slowly and staring at it. Sucy leaned over and gave her a small pat on the shoulder and a nod, both of the witches noticing Diana’s stunned expression.

“I guess I am not used to some things still,” Diana said stiffly, flexing her fingers as she ran her hands over the sheets with a curious expression. She looked around before her gaze softened, her lips quirking up into a small smile. “It seems that Akko has managed to do it once again.”

“She always does manage to pull through when you need her too,” Sucy said dryly, Lotte watching as Diana’s posture and expression seemed to relax as she turned to look out of the window, catching sight of Akko jumping up and down with joy outside of the house.

“She does.” Diana’s voice was tinged with something warm as Lotte widened her eyes in realization.

“You like her,” she said, not realizing how loud she spoke as Diana blushed, nodding slowly.

“Akko is,” she started slowly, “Well she is just so bright, and her magic is so warm, not to mention that her expressions are adorable.” She looked down shyly as Lotte smiled at her, both of them looking at the door as they heard footfalls pounding down the hall.

Diana sat up and adjusted her cloths, an eager look on her face as they heard Akko approach, the face twisting in disappointment when the magic started to swirl around her, the light pulling her back into her journal as the door flew open, Akko only managing to catch a glimpse of a swirl of light as she burst in.

Akko didn’t have anything to worry about, Lotte thought as the triumphant witch burst into the room, already launching into a story about a yeti and reindeer. She smiled at the excitable witch who was hoisting the Shiny Rod above her head, 4 stars lit up brightly on it as Lotte’s family entered the room behind her, jumping up to give them a hug as they reunited.

Akko strode confidently over toward the red and green teams in the cafeteria, still riding on the high of figuring out the new word. She was one step closer to finding Chariot! She thought with a grin, her mind reminding her that she was also another step closer to freeing Diana.

Things were finally looking up! She thought excitedly, a small skip in her step as she plopped down next to the rest of the red team, greeting everyone cheerily, “Good morning everyone,” she grabbed some hash browns as she started to tear into breakfast, her enthusiasm catching on as the others matched her good morning.

“Hey Akko,” Amanda said teasingly, “You leave your girlfriend behind today?”

The witch’s face flushed slightly as she pointed at Amanda with a slight tremor in her hands, “You won’t get me that easily,” she said, her arm flailing out and knocking into Lotte’s book, wisely held in front of her face as a type of shield. “I learned my lesson, patience is key,” she said triumphantly.

“I’m impressed Akko,” Amanda said, still smugly smiling at her, “Not even going to react when I can say I saw your girlfriend before you.”

Akko fidgeted in her seat, trying to push down her instinctual response, “Well I will see her eventually, I just have to be patient, the Shiny Rod taught me that. I will find the words when I am ready.” She said, Lotte wondering if she was saying it for Amanda or for herself.

Sucy looked up from her cup of coffee, a smirk on her face as she joined in with Amanda on teasing her, “Yeah I mean, I saw her too.”

“What?? When did this happen?” Akko stood up, her shoulder bumping into Lotte as she accidentally let go of her book as it fell to the table with a soft thump, closing and loosing her place.

“We saw her after the you found the word and were able to cure the Greenman’s disease, she was able to stay for a few minutes this time.” Lotte said, Akko’s face screwing up in frustration.

“Yeah we had a very nice conversation with her,” Sucy said, her smirk visible over the top of her cup of coffee, Amanda barley restraining giggles next to her.

There was a brief silence before Akko grabbed a handful of muffins, stuffing them into her bag as she leapt out of her seat. “Have to find more words,” she yelled behind her as she sped off out of the cafeteria, muttering to herself as Amanda and Sucy high fived gleefully. Lotte sighed and turned back to her book, thankful that she remembered roughly where she was as the cafeteria settled back down into a reasonable level of chaos.

Chapter Text

The sound of labored breathing caused Diana to snap her eyes open, finding herself in a dream again. The sight of her mother’s old room caused her stomach to drop as she realized where she was. She closed her eyes as she tried not to look at the figure of her mother, laying on her bed, weak from the disease that had swept through her body.

“What did you want to tell me mother,” A younger Diana said, standing next to the bed and clinging to her mother’s hand.

“I wanted to tell you about something very important. Something handed down from Beatrix herself.” Diana’s eyes widened, the young girl excited to learn something important and magical, “Sybilladura Lelladybura”, her mother said, smiling at Diana, “It means when an old tradition and a new power mix, the door will be opened.”

Diana reverently repeated the words, her mother coughing as she clutched tighter to her, the older Diana trying to turn away, not wanting to watch the scene play out. Not wanting any reminders of her mothers last few weeks.

“I believe that you will be the one to open that door, you will change this family, I know it.” Bernadette said, giving a soft smile to Diana before the door creaked open, Anna stepping through the door as she called for Diana.

“Diana, breakfast is ready,” she said, her voice sounding wrong to her, too high and in the wrong pitch. Diana shook her head as she woke up, finding herself looking up at Akko as the witch smiled at her before turning to pull on her uniform, excitedly talking with Lotte about the rest of the day as she got ready, Diana trying to shake off sleep and the dream.

“Finally you’re up,” Akko said, her head poking out of her uniform, “ I was trying to get you up forever ago but you were sleeping.” she cocked her head to the side, “Can you dream as a book? Is it about scary librarians?”

Diana couldn’t hold back a small laugh from escaping her mouth as Akko finished getting ready, grabbing her bag and Diana as she followed Lotte and Sucy out the door. As the red team made their way down to the dining hall, Diana kept replaying the dream in her mind, why that dream? Why now? They entered the hall, catching the glimpse of the Green team as they walked over and sat down at the table with them.

“Hey Akko,” Amanda called, “Think that you are going to be able to fly for the race today? Or will Lotte have to pull your broom behind her?” she smirked as Akko flushed, the witch standing up and pointing at Amanda.

“I am going to win that broom race! Shiny Chariot was able to do it and so I will win it too!” she posed dramatically, Diana finding her lips quirking upwards into a fond smile at her antics.

“First you need to get a broom off the ground,” a voice interrupted them, the two teams turning to see the blue team standing in front of their table, Avery posing her hands on her hips and a mocking expression on her face. “There is no way that you will be able to compete, I mean you can’t even fly, let alone race.”

“Shut it Avery,” Amanda said, both of her hands on the table as she pushed herself up.

Avery opened her mouth to respond, a sneer on her face before Hannah placed a hand on her shoulder. “Leave it,” she said, Avery huffing as she turned to walk away. She stalked down the aisle, Barbara and Hannah lingering behind her.

Hannah shifted on her feet, an awkward air falling over the three teams as they stared at each other. “You know,” Hannah said, her low voice barely audible in the loudness of the hall. “If anyone could figure out a crazy way to win the race it's Akko.” She rapidly turned and started to walk away, Barbara giving a shy smile and wave towards the two teams before following her, the red and green teams left dumbstruck.

“Was that Hannah being nice?” Amanda uttered, blinking rapidly before rubbing her eyes, turning to Jasminka, “quick pinch me, I have to make sure I’m not still dreaming.” Jasminka pinched Amanda on the shoulder, causing the witch to jump slightly with a yelp.

“Okay that was real, not dreaming. What was up with them?” Amanda rubbed her shoulder, as she stared after the two blue team witches as they sat down at the far side of the dining hall.

“Maybe they had a bit of a change of heart,” Lotte smiled, the rest of the table turning to look at her as she blushed under their gaze. “I mean a lot has happened recently, you never know.”

Sucy leaned in, squinting her eyes as Lotte nervously laughed. “You know something, don’t you?” she said, Lotte sighing before giving a resigned nod.

“Barbara came to me wanting to know how to apologize,” she looked over at Akko and Amanda, the two sitting directly across from each other. “Apparently some people made quite an impression on them.”

“Really!” Akko lit up, her eyes widening as she smiled, “I knew that they would eventually see how great Chariot’s magic is.” She turned towards Diana, the blonde witch scowling with a pensive look on her face. “No one can resist Chariot's magic, I told you so.” She said with a smug look on her face.

Lotte continued to stare at Amanda, a knowing smile on her face as the witch shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. “What, me?” she said pointing to herself, Lotte nodding slowly.

“Apparently someone made quite an impression at a certain party,” she said, Amanda’s face growing pale as she laughed nervously.

“Me? Impression?” she laughed as her eyes darted over to the blue team, meeting Barbara’s gaze as the blue team witch blushed slightly and looked down, Hannah swiveling to match her stare. Amanda gulped before she quickly looked down, rubbing the back of her neck. “I just remembered I have to study for uhhhh…” she trailed off as she felt her eyes pulled upward, meeting the eyes of both witches as Barbara gave a shy wave.

Amanda stammered as she cleared her throat, looking around the table as Sucy and Lotte stared at her expectantly, Constance and Jasminka wearing matching teasing expressions. She leaped up, grabbing a baked potato from the plate as she stuffed it into her mouth, bolting from the hall as she waved over her shoulder, the table behind her devolving into laughter.

Akko paced in the dorm room, Diana propped up on the desk as she watched Akko walk back and forth across the room, muttering to herself as her pacing only grew more frantic.

“Akko,” Diana called, the witch not hearing her and continuing to pace. “Akko!” Diana yelled, Akko yelping and slightly tripping over her feet as she stumbled, catching herself on the bunk frame.

“Sorry Diana,” she said sheepishly, “I was thinking about the race, I just really want to win, I want to follow as close to Chariot’s footsteps as possible.” She said enthusiastically, Diana noticing a small tic at the corner of her lips.

“Is that the only reason?” she said, tilting her head to the side as she noticed Akko look away slightly. “Akko you know you can tell me anything,” she said softly, guilt pooling in her stomach at the words. Except I can’t do the same for you, the words came to her mind unbidden, trying to push them away.

Akko flushed slightly, looking off to the side as she sighed. “I want to prove them wrong.” She murmured, sitting on the bed as she looked down at her lap. “Everyone keeps saying that I can’t do things,” she started off, her voice soft as the rest of the room seemed to quiet to suit the mood, “Avery, Professor Finnelan, the blue team before today.” She leaned back, her voice barely carrying to Diana.

“Sometimes Professor Ursula gives me this look, when I am almost able to cast a spell, and I can’t tell what it is.” Akko sat back up, her eyes misty as Diana took an involuntary breath in as her stomach sank at the sight of Akko clearly despondent. “I won’t give in, Shiny Chariot never did, you never did,” Akko’s lips quirk up as Diana felt a warm feeling spread through her as she was compared to Akko’s idol. “I just want to know that something is going to happen, that one day I will be able to cast magic.”

Diana found herself floundering for something to say as Akko looked down at her lap with a sad smile. She gently cleared her throat, Akko slowly looking up at her as Diana started to speak. “I- When I was a child, my mom would teach me magic,” her voice sounded distant to her own ears, Akko smiling genuinely as she focused on Diana.

“Magic didn’t come easily to me, even though I loved it.” She saw a sparkle appear in Akko’s eye, motivating Diana to continue, “I would run up to my mother, excited to show her a new spell, only to find out that what I thought was a new spell was just Anna moving the silverware around the table.” Akko giggled, causing a smile to cross Diana’s face.

“To the rest of my family, my cousins, my aunt, magic always came so easily, but for me I had to practice endlessly. It took me years to reach the level of magic that I did.” She gestured with her hand, a sad smile on her face as she turned to look Akko in the eyes and took a deep breath in. “I honestly am nervous for when you get me out of here, to see if I can do magic again.” Akko opened her mouth to respond as Diana forged onward, not letting the other witch get a word in.

“And it is a matter of when.” Akko rubbed the back of her neck as she smiled guiltily. She looked at Diana’s eyes, finding herself lost within the bright blue as Diana smiled at her. “Atsuko, to be honest you are one of the reasons why I have been trying so hard to leave this book,” Akko’s breath caught in her throat at Diana’s words, hardly daring to breath. “The way that you love magic, the way that you never give up, well it is inspiring. I can only hope to see it myself some day.” Diana finished with a soft smile, Akko finding herself scooting closer to Diana, her mouth suddenly dry as she opened it to speak.

The door to the red dorm flew open as Akko jumped, hitting her head on the top bunk as she fell back down, Diana crossing her arms as she glared at Sucy and Lotte, the two witches walking through the door discussing magical symbols class before they looked up, noticing Akko laying down with her hands clutching her head as Diana leveled them with an icy glare.

Sucy chuckled, Lotte giving an embarrassed smile as she backed away towards the door, “We can go to Blytonbury if we are interrupting,” she said, Sucy’s laughter only growing louder as Diana’s face flushed.

Akko shot up, nearly bumping her head against the top of the bunk once again as she yelled, “that’s it!” she grabbed Diana off of the desk, twirling around with her before setting her back down, so wrapped up in her excitement that she failed to notice the flushed and dazed look that overtook Diana, stunned at having just been spun around.

“What’s it?” Lotte asked, Akko running up and grabbing her shoulders.

“The Last Wednesday Society! They have to have some magic stuff that can help, I think I saw a broom there last time. I gotta check.” Akko tore out of the room, Lotte casting an apologetic look back at Diana before following her, trying to get Akko to slow down.

Diana blinked, trying to clear her mind as a smile crossed her face. Akko was always doing something to surprise her, always some new trick up her sleeve. For some reason the word new stuck in her head, her mind running around it as she thought about Akko. Even with her lack of magic she figured out how to get around it, with a modern day solution. She drew in a breath, her mind racing as she remembered the quote her mother told her.

“When old tradition and a new power mix, the gate to an unseen world will open.” She muttered, that was it! That was the next word! She grinned, excited to tell Akko what she had figured out.

Akko shifted nervously on top of the tower as she waited for Sucy to show up, feeling her stomach turn as she turned over the bottle that Sucy had given her. The trip to town turned up nothing, the broom that she swore was there no longer in stock, and when she asked about it she got a dirty glare from the shop owner.

She had barely gotten back to the dorm when she had to run to make it in time for the race, grabbing Diana and the Shiny Rod as Diana had frantically tried to tell her something. She had no time to listen as she ran out the door, hurriedly apologizing as she barely was able to get to the race in time to start.

Looking over she saw Avery giving her a dirty glare as she stood with the other teams. Akko gulped and turned away, walking slightly away from everyone as she opened her side bag, peering in to see Diana. “What were you going to say?” she whispered, looking around to make sure that no one was around to see her whispering into her bag.

“I was trying to tell you back at the dorm,” Diana said, slightly exasperated, “I think I know what the next word is.”

“What!” Akko flinched as she yelled, looking around as she chuckled and slipped into the tower, trying to avoid the stares of the other team, letting out a sigh as she turned around. There in front of her was Amanda, bending over a large case and talking to it. “Amanda?” Akko said, taking a step forward.

Amanda jumped up, the chain she was holding slipping through her hands as she whirled around at the noise, “Shit!” she yelled, trying to grab a hold of the chain as it whipped around as the broom rocketed from its position on the floor, making a tight circle in the air as the chain swung towards Akko, her eyes widening as the chain hit her stomach impulsively grabbing it as the red broom struggled in the tight space.

“Amanda!” Akko yelled, trying to keep her hands on the chain as Amanda raced over to grab it, the two of them straining as the broom pulled them steadily towards the door. “What did you do!”

“Oh you would have done the same thing,” Amanda planted her feet in the doorway, the other witches craning their necks to see what the commotion was as the sound of Wangari’s commentary drew closer. “I saw you go in and look for the same broom. But I am going to win this, and I’ll show that I can ride the Shooting Star.” The two of them struggled to restrain the broom as Akko glanced out the window, her eyes narrowing as she saw Sucy approach, her hand up in the air with the ring held in it.

She smirked as she looked at Amanda, “Sorry Amanda, but I am going to win this!” she yelled, jumping as she clutched the chain, scaling it as she managed to get one hand on the broom before the rest of the chain was torn out of Amanda’s hand, the witch swearing in defeat as Akko rocketed out of the tower, the wind blowing the other witches back as she held out her arm, her eyes closed as she hoped that Sucy would be able to pass the ring.

A weight settled on her arm as she heard the sound of cackling grow faint behind her as the Shooting Star carried her upward, Akko wrapping the chains around her as she pulled herself close to the broom.

“Akko! What are you doing!” Diana’s voice barely carried over the wind as she called out, fear laced into her voice.

“I’m winning,” Akko grinned, reveling in the feeling of flying as the Shooting Star shot down the path, the finish line almost in sight. She felt her stomach drop as the broom sharply turned, sending it skyward as it spiraled off course, the chains that she had wrapped around her unraveling as she clung onto the broom and her bag.

“On second thought,” she said, the wind taken from her breath as the broom skimmed the top of the forest, breaking out from the tree tops and making a beeline towards a lake. “Oh dear.” She muttered, an accompanying sigh from Diana as the broom dove under the water, Akko barely able to take a breath before they crashed into the water. She somehow managed to cling on as the broom twisted in the water, pulling her along as she shut her eyes, feeling herself pulled out of the water as the wind whipped around her, pushing her wet hair into her face.

She heard a noise as she squinted, managing to push her hair out of her eyes as her eyes widened when her vision cleared. In front of her was an airplane, the Shooting Star passing it without difficulty as she looked behind her in awe.

“Akko look out!” Diana’s voice called out, Akko turning around in time to see a flock of birds in front of her as she instinctively threw up her hands to shield her face, feeling herself slip off the broom as her arms pinwheeled, trying to grab onto anything as she felt the chain slip through her fingers as she fell.

She clutched her bag to her, the wind ripping the canvas away as she was left holding the Shiny Rod and Diana, her stomach dropping as she stared downward at the distant ground.

“Akko!” Diana yelled, the witch turning to her with a sad smile.

“I can fix this, yeah I can do this. I just have to believe in myself, a believing heart-”

“Akko you don’t have to do it alone.” Diana interrupted her, Akko staring at her as the witch talked, almost lost to the fact that they were falling as she caught sight of the airplane passing by them rapidly as they plummeted toward the earth.

“We are here, I am here, to help. Your magic is amazing, but it is your heart that pulled us all together.” Akko felt herself smile slightly, “Now,” Diana’s voice was firm as it cut through the whistling wind, “Do you trust me.”

Akko nodded firmly, the Shiny Rod lighting up as she stared at it in wonder, as she swore she could see the outline of someone else as she tried to peer through the light.

“Good, now, repeat after me.” Diana said, Akko nodding again as the ground rushed up to meet them, the tops of the trees now starting to become visible as she held the Shiny rod out.

“Sybilladura!”

“Sybilladura!” the Shiny Rod glowed brightly as the magic started to hum around them, Akko smiling wide as she felt the magic start to flow through her.

“Lelladybura!”

“Lelladybura!” Akko yelled, the shiny rod erupting into light as she felt it form a familiar shame, laughing wildly as felt the Shiny Valley appear beneath her. The magic and the wind ruffled the tops of the trees as the broom spun in a tight circle, pulling up as Akko yelled in joy.

She was about to shout in celebration when she felt a weight against her back, warmth seeping through her uniform as she felt hands grasp her shoulders. “Diana…” she choked out, the broom leveling out in the air as her eyes went wide.

“Hello Atsuko.” Diana said, a slight flush on her face as she pressed herself against Akko, unable to restrain the smile that crossed her face. The wind felt cold against her body, her eyes darting around and trying to absorb as much as possible before they were inevitably pulled back to Akko.

Why can’t I turn around, Akko thought, nervousness flashing through her body as she slowly moved, feeling her heart thud in her chest. She managed to turn around and felt the breath leave her body as her eyes met Diana’s soft blue eyes, suddenly unable to speak as she took in the girl in front of her.

“I never got to thank you Akko, for everything that you have done. And I want you to know,” Akko was unable to breath, sure that Diana could hear the pounding of her heart, “I think that you are one of the finest witches I have ever known.”

Akko was struck speechless, blinking rapidly before she squeaked out, “neat.”

Diana’s lips twitched for a moment as Akko panicked, before she erupted in laughter, Akko felt herself smiling as she listened to her laughter, Diana looking up as she met her eyes, a mischievous smile on her face.

“Well Akko,” Akko felt her heart stop as Diana gave her a lopsided grin, “Don’t we have a race to win.” Akko grinned as she nodded, gripping the broom as she spun around, feeling a warm feeling well up in her as Diana lightly gripped her sides.

“Let’s do this!” She yelled, bright green magic gathering around the base of the broom. “Shiny Valley, Go!” She felt Diana’s arms grasp her tighter as the broom took off, a wild smile on her face as they zoomed over the tops of the trees, Luna Nova rapidly becoming visible on the horizon.

The noise of the crowd reached her ears as the broom dipped downward, racing through the trees as she glanced back at Diana, meeting her eyes as they shared a glance, both of them smiling widely as they burst out of the trees and onto the track, leaning forward as they sped down the track, the wind whistling in Akko’s ears as they pulled level with Amanda and Avery, the two witches glaring at each other as Akko pulled level with them.

Amanda blinked in surprise before she grit her teeth and pushed her broom forward, Akko doing the same as they focused on the finish line.

“And surprisingly we have Akko bursting onto the scene,” Wangari’s voice came from above, the crowd murmuring in shock, “And who is that on the broom with her, she certainly wasn’t here at the start of the race.”

Avery tried to push her broom forward, growling in frustration as Akko and Amanda pulled ahead, the two of them sharing glares as they pushed forward, Diana grinning as she felt the wind pull her hair back.

Akko leaned forward, Diana moving with her as she willed power into the broom, barely inching forward as they crossed the finish line, the broom starting to dissolve as Akko tumbled off of it, crashing to the ground as the shiny rod popped back into existence. She popped off of the ground as she watched Diana look up from her position on the ground, a soft smile on her face as magic swirled around her, her form turning into magic as it was pulled back into her book.

She smiled as she walked over and picked her up, brushing her off as she straightened up, surprised as Lotte enveloped her in a hug, Sucy giving her a nod of respect as she broke out into a smile.

“And there is our winner everyone!” Wangari held onto her broom as she balanced on it vertically, “Atsuko Kagari and the Red team have won Luna Nova’s annual broom race!”

A grin broke out across Akko’s face, joining in with Lotte as she cheered, holding up the Shiny Rod as she celebrated.

At the back of the crowd, a tall figure tapped her chin as she watched Akko holding up the Shiny Rod, a small cube floating next to her projected the scene of the race as she hummed to herself. “Five words already? They have almost caught up to us Chariot.” She turned and slipped through the crowd, small cubes following her as she reviewed the footage of the race.

Chapter Text

Akko clutched the trophy to her chest as she stood in front of headmistress Holbrooke, flanked by Lotte and Sucy as she shifted from foot to foot. Diana’s journal lay open on the table in front of them, the girl plainly visible in the mirror. An awkward silence hung over the room before Holbrooke let out a sigh.

“So Miss Diana,” She started, Diana snapping her eyes over toward the headmistress. “You have been here for how long again?”

“95 years.” Diana answered, Holbrooke rubbing her temples as she let out a sigh.

“How could we have missed this.” She muttered to herself, taking a seat at her desk.

“And how is it that you have just appeared right now?” Finnelan asked, moving out from the edge of the room. “Or is this a creative way for Miss Kagari to perhaps cheat? I am sure we have all seen her attempts to fly before this.”

The rest of the professors shifted uneasily behind the red team, some murmuring in agreement with Finnelan. Ursula cleared her throat, stepping forward to stand next to Akko.

“If I may,” she said, receiving a small nod from Holbrooke, “Perhaps a large enough amount of magical energy could have caused her to break out of the confines of the book.” Ursula, laid a hand on Akko’s shoulder, “If Atsuko summoning the Shiny Valley was able to provide her with enough energy to escape, then perhaps we could match that same output. I am sure that would prove that there was no trickery involved in this.” Ursula narrowed her eyes at Finnelan, the two glaring at each other before Holbrooke waved her hands.

“That will not be necessary,” the two women backed down at her words, “I have no reason to believe that Atsuko cheated in any regard, and furthermore, no reason to suspect anything from a student who is trapped by a curse.” She turned to the red team, putting a small smile on her face. “You four may go.”

She dismissed them, Akko pickup up Diana’s journal as they left, letting out an involuntary sigh of relief as they left the tense atmosphere of the room. The four exchanged small grins as they stood outside of the office, Akko tapping her foot in excitement as she stared at the trophy.

“I still say you got lucky Akko,” Amanda pushed off from the wall next to the door, the other two members of the green team with her. She walked over to Akko, a slight frown on her face before she broke out in laughter, giving the witch a hard pat on the back.

“I’m kidding that was hardcore,” Akko smiled back, a slight grumbling coming from Diana. “The two of you kicked some butt back there, really showed them all what for.”

“And found another word it seems,” the two teams turned around to see Professor Ursula standing behind them, a proud smile on her face. “An old tradition and a new power, very well put together Akko.”

“It was Diana who figured it out,” Akko put the trophy down as she held up Diana’s journal, the girl flushing slightly as a smile crept onto her face. “She was fantastic, and then Shiny Valley appeared, and now we only have two words left!” Akko bounced on her feet in excitement, Diana turning an even deeper shade of red.

“Now that is impressive.” The two teams turned as a new voice interrupted them, a woman with purple hair and a red cape striding down the hallway towards them. “Five words already, that is quite an accomplishment.”

“Croix,” Ursula whispered, her voice soft, Akko barely picking it up as the woman stopped in front of them.

“Forgive me,” The woman met Ursula’s eyes before she grinned. “My name is Croix, the new professor of modern magic here at Luna Nova.”

“Modern magic?” Akko cocked her head to the side, “What is that?”

“A disgrace is what it is,” Finnelan glared at Croix as she left the room, “The outside world corrupts magic, and I do not see why she is here to teach our students anything about it.”

“Finnelan, I see you haven’t aged,” Croix coughed into her hand loudly, “I mean changed one bit since I last seen you.” Amanda choked on her laughter as Finnelan pressed her lips together tightly.

“Wait does modern magic mean stuff like laptops?” Akko stepped in between the two, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

“Why yes it does, it seems I already have one student who will be fit right in with my class.” Croix looked at Ursula, a knowing smile on her face. “Is this your student Ursula?”

“Yes,” Ursula’s voice was tightly controlled as she swallowed a lump in her throat.

Akko’s eyes widened even larger, “And how do you know about the words?”

Croix grinned, looking directly at Ursula and maintaining eye contact. “Why I knew Chariot when she was at school.”

“Really!!” Akko yelled, “You have to tell me everything about her. What was she like? How did she figure out the words? What was her favorite food?”

Akko’s tirade of questions were cut off by a soft clearing of the throat, Headmistress Holbrooke interrupting her as she called for Croix to come into her office.

Croix walked backwards into the office, a large grin on her face as she gave a mock salute to the witches standing outside as Akko pouted, the doors closing behind Croix.

“Darn, I was hoping she could have some clues.” Akko grumbled to herself as Ursula gave a tight smile.

“Cheer up Akko,” Amanda slung one arm over her shoulder, “At least now you can relax a bit, they figured it all out for you right? It’s time to celebrate!” Akko grinned and nodded, agreeing with Amanda as she lifted the trophy over her head again.

Amanda was right, Akko thought, Holbrooke could handle this, everything would be fine.

Lotte patted Akko on the back as she thumped her head against the table, the rest of the red and green team shooting her sympathetic looks. The teams had pushed together two tables, claiming a corner of the patio at a cafe in Blytonbury in order to escape Luna Nova. The questions had not stopped since Akko had won the race, the constant hovering from several of the professors and the glares from Avery giving Akko almost no rest.

“I do apologize,” Diana was propped up in the center of the table facing Akko, “I had no intention of causing this much trouble.”

Akko waved her hand dismissively, her head still resting on the table, “Not your fault Diana, you were just helping.”

“You did keep Akko from becoming paste,” Amanda said around a muffin, Sucy giving a small chuckle as Constanze elbowed her in the side as she rolled her eyes. “What it’s true?”

Akko grumbled into the table as Diana shot a glare at Amanda. “What we need,” Diana said sternly, “Is a new plan. Professor Croix seems to know about the words, should we ask her about the next one?”

“Yeah,” Akko popped back up, “Yeah she knew chariot, she has to have some information about what to do next right?”

“Exactly,she is the-” Diana stopped talking, blinking for a moment before looking quizzically around.

“I’m sorry what was I talking about?” Diana turned to Akko with a confused look on her face.

“You were talking about trying to figure out the next word.” Lotte leaned next to Akko, Diana nodding to herself.

“Tha- a- a-” her voice stuttered, the mirror flickering for a moment before stabilizing, Diana looking down at herself for a moment and then looking around, meeting Akko’s eyes.

“Diana?” Akko’s voice was tinged with worry, “Are you alright?”

“How do you know who I am?” Akko’s face paled at Diana’s words, swallowing the lump that appeared in her throat. “Who are you?”

“What do you mean who is she?” Amanda turned the journal around, a shocked look on her face. “If this is a joke you are pulling you better quite it.”

“Excuse me,” Diana bristled in anger, “I am not pulling a joke, it was you all who supposedly brought me here. One moment I was in the library and now I am here,” she looked around in confusion, “Where ever here is.”

Akko felt her heart skip a beat before her stomach plummeted, grabbing the journal from Amanda as she examined the mirror for cracks, muttering to herself as she made sure that the mirror wasn’t broken. The journal was in pristine condition, Akko chuckling nervously, “Okay funny joke Diana,” a undeniable quiver to her voice, “time to stop now.”

“I have already said before,” Diana grit her teeth, placing her hands on her hips, “I am not joking. Who are you and why do you have my journal?”

The journal fell onto the table as Akko felt herself fall backwards into her chair, her mind unable to focus on anything but Diana’s cold questions. She licked her lips in nervousness, her mouth opening and closing as nothing found its way out.

“Something must have happened,” Lotte muttered, pulling out her wand as she waved it over Diana’s journal. The light on it gave a flicker before dying out, giving a low beep as the window flashed. “What in,” Lotte tapped the wand against the table, nothing changing as Amanda pulled out her wand as well.

She gave it a similar wave as the power flickered and died. “Something is wrong, we should get back.” Amanda turned to Constanze, the shorter girl nodding before pulling out her wand and a small tablet, the screen flickering to life as she hummed to herself.

She scrunched her eyebrows together in confusion, turning to Amanda and Jasminka before rapidly signing, Amanda nodding along as she clicked her tongue in annoyance.

“Cons says that there is something blocking the signal from Luna Nova, and that all magic is being drained-”

“More blocked,” Jasminka interrupted, Constanze nodding along. “We might have enough magic to get back but Diana’s curse is running off of low power.”

The two teams looked at Diana, the witch in question fidgeting in the mirror under their glances. “What does that mean exactly,” she said, the rest of the witches glancing around as they exchanged uneasy glances.

“What it means,” Akko stood up, a serious expression on her face, “Is that we have to get back to Luna Nova now.” Her voice was hard, a determined glint in her eyes as the teams sprung into motion. They managed to squeeze onto two brooms, Lotte and Sucy as well as Jasminka and Amanda casting the spell as all four of them tried to combine what little power was left int the wands.

The brooms shook as they slowly hovered above the ground, barely clearing a few feet before they hovered wavering in the air. “It’ll have to do,” Amanda said, taking off towards Luna Nova, quickly followed by Lotte.

As they drew closer they saw a crowd milling around the Luna Nova tower, the top boarded off with metal slabs as the professors stood facing off the staff in front. The two teams landed heavily, Akko immediately sprinting over to Professor Ursula, skidding to a stop in front of her.

“Professor!” she yelled, her eyes wide in panic, “What is happening?” the rest of the two teams ran up behind her as Ursula faced them.

“The staff are striking and have sealed up Luna Nova’s crystal,” She tapped her fingers on her arm, “They are demanding a higher usage of the magic in the crystal. We are at a stalemate right now, and there are reports of strange things starting to happen around campus with the students and the usual schedule.” She smiled tersely as she turned around, looking back over her shoulder, “You girls just relax, we can fix this in no time.” She walked off back to the rest of the professors, Akko turning back to face the two teams, a worried expression on her face.

She pulled out the journal, opening it to reveal Diana, the witch disgruntled as she huffed at Akko. “And now will you please explain what is going on?” Akko gave a nervous smile, clearing her throat.

“Well, um there is an issue with the crystal, and its affecting the magic, and apparently weird stuff is happening around campus while the staff is on strike.” Akko rambled out in one breath, Diana letting out a slow sigh.

“I meant,” she rubbed her temples, “who you were and how you seem to know me.” She sighed as she tapped her chin, “If there is an issue with the staff then why not check the service tunnels.” She shrugged her shoulders slightly.

“Service tunnels…” Amanda trailed off, turning to the other members of the green team before turning back to Akko. “Hey Akko we gotta go, gonna check out those tunnels real quick alright.” She took off, calling behind her, “Good luck with your girlfriend!”

“Wha- she-” Akko sputtered as her face flushed crimson, Diana’s face matching hers as she grumbled to herself. “I’m gonna go see if I can fix anything here!” Akko yelled as she jogged towards the school staff. A panic was slowly creeping over her body, trying to push thoughts out of her head.

What if she never fixed Diana? What if it got worse and Diana just, disappeared? What if she never- Akko pushed the thoughts out of her head, forcing herself to close the journal and put it into her bag.

She confidently walked up to the picket line that had formed, walking up to a large Minotaur and putting a finger in their chest. “I need you guys to take down those metal plates.” She narrowed her eyes as the Minotaur snorted.

“We won’t be moving anything until we get a bigger share of the magical power here.” They said, mutters of agreement coming from the rest of the crowd. “We deserve a share of the power too, it isn’t fair for the witches to use all of it and we get almost nothing to use for ourselves.”

Akko paused as the words bounced around her head. What if they were like Diana? And they needed magical power to function. She chewed on her lip in anxiety as she tapped one foot. That didn’t sound right to keep energy from any one who needed it, and if they got to use more energy then Diana would be able to get it back. She narrowed her eyes, nodding at the Minotaur. “Alright.”

Ursula sighed as she rubbed her eyes, walking back over to try to negotiate again, “Alright,” she muttered as she looked up, blinking in surprise as she saw Akko standing in front of the workers, holding a megaphone. Oh dear, she thought, this was going to be even more complicated than she thought.

--

“Any sign of anything?” Amanda called out, poking her head into a storage room as she peered into the darkness.

“Nothing yet.” Jasminka called back. The three of them had made their way through half of the lower floors of Luna Nova, slowly making their way through the various storage rooms and access tunnels.

“This is just a wild goose chase,” Amanda muttered, turning the corner to see a small creature standing in the middle of the hallway. “Hello?” Amanda took a step forward, “Know anything about the mess going on?”

The creature opened its mouth as a strange shrieking noise came from it, Constanze running up to Amanda and pointing at it and then the wands. Amanda’s eyes widened as she tried to keep a calm face. “Alright yeah that makes sense,” she said, inching forward closer to it. “Now how about-” the creature turned, dashing down the hall as Amanda took off in a sprint after it.

Amanda raced down the hallway, flanked by Jasminka and Constanze as they chased the small creature through the halls of Luna Nova, Amanda skidding around the corner hard as she pushed off of the ground, lunging for the creature as she got one hand on it, causing both of them to tumble as they entered a large room. Jasminka pulled her up, the three of them facing the creature as it turned toward them.

“Alright what’s your deal?” Amanda panted heavily, Constanze pulling a large magical battery from her bag as she passed her broom to Amanda. “You are the one who is messing with the workers huh? Causing everything to go haywire?”

The small creature cocked its head, opening its mouth as a low grinding noise came from it, its form breaking apart into a swarm of small cubes that swirled in the air, each one pulsing a deep red color.

“What the heck is that,” Amanda took a step backwards in surprise. Constanze passed each of them one of her battery packs as the cubes solidified into a large dragon head. The head let out a loud roar, a mechanical dial tone noise running through it as the green team fell into a ready position.

The monster lunged forward, the three witches scattering as it bit into empty air. Amanda hit a switch on the side of the broom, twi engines popping out as she leapt onto the broom, balancing on her two feet as she shot around the creature.

It lunged for her, maw wide open before it halted, Jasminka gripping the head by one of the horns. She strained as her wand glowed with magic, the battery pack attached to it sparking wildly as she channeled magic through her body. She heaved, sending the creature flying across the room as Amanda whooped in victory.

The creature roared, narrowing its eyes as it turn and rammed through the wall, the green team stunned for a movement. “After it!” Amanda called, the three of them chasing the creature as it burst through a door and made its way outside, bursting onto the lawn as the assembled professors and magical workers reeled back.

A flash of light stunned the crowd, the green team skidding to a stop as Croix descended from the sky, standing on top of a rotating metal cylinder. The creature roared, breaking apart into black cubes again before it reassembled itself into a large bird, flying up toward Croix.

“With technology on our side,” She called out loudly, pointing her wand at the approaching creature, “We will no longer be held back by our reliance on the old ways.” Her wand lit up, a bolt of energy leaping from it to strike the bird in the wing, sending it crashing down to the ground.

Croix landed on the ground and strode towards it, all the while talking in a lazy tone. “Be free from your plight spirit,” she gestured with her wand, a large obelisk hovering next to her opening a vent as red energy was pulled from the creature, swirling through the air as it was pulled into the magitech device. A small red spirit popped out of the creature, fleeing as the professors made their way over to Croix and the device.

“With this,” Croix smiled, “there is no need to argue over sharing magic.” Holbrooke poked the device, murmurs spreading through the crowd.

“So you can do magic like this,” Holbrooke said, grins appearing on the professors faces.

Akko heard a low groan come from her bag, pulling out Diana’s journal as she flipped it open, holding her breath with anticipation. Diana was standing in the mirror, rubbing her forehead as she blearily blinked up at Akko. “Akko?” Diana mumbled, “What happened?”

Akko felt her eyes water, a sigh of relief escaping her as she felt the stress that she was holding in her gut melt away. “I am so glad you are okay Diana.” She smiled, Diana flushing slightly as she shifted on her feet, a small smile making its way onto her face.

“And this time,” Akko glanced up at the magitech battery that Croix was showing off to the staff. “I think I have an idea.”

Chapter Text

“When dealing with Magitech one can never be too careful.” Akko hunched further forward in her seat, pouring over her notes as she tried to pay attention to the words that Professor Croix was saying. “Magical energy has to use a very specific set of materials,” Croix gestured with her hand, a small cylinder rising into the air and spinning idly, “Use the wrong conduit for the energy, and your magic will rip apart the machinery.”

Croix slowly paced in front of the room, clicking a button as the lights in the room dimmed, the cylinder spinning faster and projecting an image onto the wall. Akko quietly laughed to herself, immediately thinking of how similar it seemed to power points from her old school.

“Why do we even need to learn this anyway,” Avery’s voice carried through the room, “It’s not dignified magic.”

“And I’m assuming that you figured out a way to do magic when the crystal was blocked off?” Amanda shot back a small smirk on her lips. She high fived Constanze, Avery sputtering in indignation.

Akko’s lips quirked up, her attention torn from Croix’s lecture as her eyes were pulled over towards Diana’s journal resting next to her notes. “Psst,” She whispered under the class argument that had broken out, “Diana how are you.”

A soft sigh answered her, “Akko I am fine, you don’t need to check in every few minutes.” Diana said, her voice softly carrying under the shouting.

“I know, it’s just…” Akko trailed off, a small frown on her face. Ever since Diana lost her memories briefly Akko found herself checking in with her every few minutes. She was unable to stop herself thinking about the possibility of Diana forgetting her, or how her heart felt uncomfortably tight in her chest with that thought.

“It’s okay,” Diana’s voice made her lips quirk up in a grin, “I am sorry that I can not remember anything about what happened.” Diana’s voice was pensive, Akko visualizing her tapping her foot in discomfort. “I have no idea how that could have happened.” Akko chewed on her lip, tapping her pencil as she looked at her notes.

She had only been able to get the name of the next word out of Professor Ursula, Lyone, but nothing else. No matter how hard she tried to reason with Ursula the more she pushed back, telling her that she had just learned a lesson in patience; all with a worried look on her face. Was it that Ursula didn’t think she could handle it?

Akko flinched as she felt herself accidentally draw blood from her lip, the metallic taste snapping her out of her thoughts. The bell tolled, stifling the argument in the room as everyone hurriedly packed up their bags.

“Akko are you alright?” Diana asked, Akko flashing her a quick smile as she threw her books into her bag.

“Yeah just thinking.” Akko stumbled over her words, trying to wave off Diana’s question as she went to walk out, tucking her book bag and Diana’s journal under her arm.

“Atsuko.” Croix called her over to her desk as Amanda gave her a pat on the back on the way out of the door, Akko walking over slowly. Croix smiled as she sat on top of the desk. “I remember that you had quite a few questions regarding Chariot.” Akko’s eyes lit up in joy, Croix chuckling.

“You must be a fan then?” she asked.

“Of course!” Akko pulled out the Shiny Rod, posing with it dramatically. “I’m going to be just like her one day.” Croix raised one of her eyebrows, tapping her fingers on her desk.

“Is that so?” She muttered. “Then you must surely be aware of how she unlocked the words right?” Akko’s smile wavered, Croix smile widening as she leaned over.

“You know I went to school with her,” Croix started, Akko bouncing her foot in excitement as Diana felt her eyes narrow. There was something wrong here, she thought, trying to focus on the words that Croix was saying.

“I actually remember how she found the sixth word, what was it again?” she clicked her fingers as she hummed in thought. “Oh right, Lyone.”

“You did know her.” Akko breathed out, Diana feeling her stomach sink.

“Yes I did, and I remember where she found the meaning of that word too. She found it at the Wakandea Tree. I wonder why Professor Ursula didn’t tell you that. She should know that the word can be found there.” Croix said as Akko started to throw questions at her.

Diana’s mind ground to a halt. How did she know that Professor Ursula was working with Akko. How did she know how Chariot found all the words. She barely heard Croix offer to lend Akko transportation.

She waited until Akko had torn out of the room, racing toward the red team dorm with one of Croix flying devices tucked under her arm. “Akko, are you sure this is a good idea?” She said hesitantly, “You know that professor Ursula warned you about this word.”

Akko ground to a halt, looking away as her shoulders hunched in. “I have to do this, please Diana.” Diana felt her heart sink as she heard the desperation in Akko’s voice. “I have to figure out this word.”

“Just,” Diana said, her voice full of worry, “Please be careful.”

“Aren’t I always?” Akko said, Diana frowning at the question as Akko laughed, Diana softly blushing as Akko resumed her rapid journey back to the dorms.

There had to be something she could do, Diana thought, someone who could help her figure out exactly what is going on.

“Look you can have all the hunches you want, that doesn’t mean that you are automatically right.” Amanda leaned back in the chair, tossing her collapsed wand into the air, swiftly catching it before repeating the motion.

Diana huffed, propped up on the green team’s desk as she crossed her arms. “I am telling you, there is something off about Professor Croix.” Diana tapped her feet, frowning to herself, “I never thought that Luna Nova’s self proclaimed troublemaker would pass up the chance to break the rules.”

“I see what you are doing.” Amanda narrowed her eyes, “you think that I am so easy to trick, just wave the idea of breaking the rules in front of my face and watch me leap at the chance.” Amanda put her elbows on her knees, leaning over as she rested her head in her hand.

“Well you were right.” Diana let out a chuckle as Amanda winked exaggeratedly. Constanze rolled her eyes as she tossed a screwdriver towards Amanda, the girl ducking nonchalantly as it bounced off of the wall. Diana idly noted that the wall behind Amanda’s desk was full of small dents and scuff marks.

“So what’s got you thinking that Croix is up to something?” Amanda’s eyes narrowed.

“I know it sounds irrational.” Diana tapped her feet, her fingers tapping on her arm in tandem. “She just, told Akko everything that she needed to know.” Amanda raised an eyebrow at her, Diana rubbing the bridge of her nose before she pointed at Amanda.

“See, see that.” She grumbled to herself. She found herself acting much more irrationally when it came to Akko. Ever since the Samhain festival she found herself leaping at every opportunity to spend time with Akko; often watching the excitable witch get into trouble that she had dragged her along to.

“I should be happy.” Diana clasped her hands behind her back, pacing slightly in the mirror, her mouth twisted into a half frown. “Croix just told her everything; where the word was, how to get there, even gave her a machine to fly there by herself.”

“And?” Amanda asked, tilting her head.

“That’s just it? After professor Ursula cautioned her several times she just ignores it. How can we trust Croix so easily? I admire her enthusiasm, but she could get hurt.” Diana trailed off as Amanda gave a long sigh.

“Or is it that she doesn’t trust you?” Diana paused at her words, her lips twitching. “Look Diana, Akko is nervous.” Amanda gave a chuckle, “Okay more than nervous, poor girl has been worrying about you for the past few days. Do you think she would really pass up the chance to try to figure out how to get closer to freeing you?” Diana fidgeted, rubbing her hands on her forearms.

“You’re right.” Diana muttered, a wide grin stretching across Amanda as she leaned in.

“What did you say?” Diana rolled her eyes and let out another sigh at Amanda’s grin.

“I said,” she gritted her teeth as she forced the words out, “You’re right.” Amanda leaned back confidently, smiling to herself. “Now are you going to help me or not?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Amanda stood up and stretched, cracking her knuckles. “You ready to do this Cavendish?”

A wide smile crossed Diana’s face, mockingly bowing as she gestured to her journal. “Please, after you.” Amanda narrowed her eyes for a second before bursting into laughter.

“Well played,” Amanda burst into laughter, walking over and leaning against the bunk bed and turning to Constanze. “Yo Cons, can we use your hideout for a sec.”

Constanze let out a hum as she tapped her finger on her chin, leaving a small spot of grease on her skin. “Come on Cons, I’ll buy you some news supplies.”

Amanda pumped her fist as Constanze sighed and nodded, Amanda leaning over and ruffling her hair, ignoring the death glare that she received in return. “Your the best!” Amanda swiped Diana’s journal as she propped open a trap door and jumped in, throwing a lazy salute as they plummeted down into the dark.

The bark of the Wakandea tree was rough, Akko’s fingers digging into the small cracks in the wood as she pulled herself up onto a large branch and wrapped her arms around it. She panted as she stared upwards, letting out a low groan as she saw the tree stretching upwards, disappearing into the clouds above. Just a moment of rest, she let herself flop against the tree.

A rumble passed through the tree, the closed flower buds near her ruffling as a small bit of pollen escaped from them. Akko scrambled back up, a burst of energy pushing her forward as she kept just ahead of the pollen. She could make it. She had to make it, Diana was depending on her.

Lyone. What was the word, she barley had any hints from Professor Ursula before she took off for the tree, rushing to try to find the next word. She grumbled as she used the large thorns to pull herself upwards. She would show everyone, and figure out the words in time to help Diana. Maybe then she could see if Diana would want to maybe hold hands, or if her hair was as soft as it looked… she shook the thoughts from her head as she huffed, pulling herself up the tree.

The tree almost shifted, the large trunk swaying as the bark creaked below Akko’s feet. She summoned up the dregs of her energy as she pumped her legs, pushing herself to run faster as green pollen made a hissing noise as it escaped the flowers.

There was supposed to be more time! Her mind raced as she pulled herself higher, the tree stretching out above her, seemingly without end. “Come on, come on.” Akko muttered to herself, “I’m not giving up yet.”

A large shape passed close by her, the wind spinning her around as she grabbed onto a large thorn, clutching at it to keep from falling.

“Akko!” she got her footing and looked over to see Ursula stretching out her hand, hovering in mid air on her broom. “Take my hand!”

The bulbs around her lit up, a green glow surrounding her and bathing the two of them in an almost sickly light. The leaves rustled as Akko turned her head up, biting her lip. Her eyes were pulled in between the clouds above and Ursula’s hand. She could give up, go back to Luna Nova, try again in another six months…

She slapped away Ursula’s hand, gritting her teeth as she turned around. “No!” she yelled, balling up her fists. “I can do this! There is enough time for me to get up there, Croix told me so.”

“Why would?” Ursula seemed thrown off by her statement, blinking in confusion. “Akko the pollen starts from the top of the tree, there is no time left we have to turn back.”

Akko turned her head up again, narrowing her eyes. Was that cloud closer than before? She shook her head, slowly trudging forward. “You just don’t believe in me. Well I can do it, I have to.” The Wakandea tree shivered, Akko stumbling for a moment. “The word is right there, I need it to help Diana. I need to meet Chariot.”

Urusla’s hand shot back to her chest, as if the words had physically burned her as Akko continued, “Why won’t you let me do this? I have to meet her, I have to at least know if she thinks I can be like her one day.” Tears streamed down Akko’s face, her shoulders shaking.

“Akko… I…” Ursula’s voice was soft, tears prickling at the back of her eyes. With a loud rumble the buds above Akko burst open, green pollen spreading through the air as Akko’s eyes widened. The pollen rushed down the tree, a wild wind picking up as it blew the pollen towards her, Akko crossing her arms in front of her in vain as she was picked up off of the branch by the force of the wind.

Wind rushed by her ears as she fell, a scream echoing in her ear as she wondered who’s it was. She stretched her hand out, grasping at air before she felt her body go sideways. Arms wrapped her, pulling her close as she cracked her eyes open.

“Professor?” Akko muttered. Her eyes met with Ursula’s determined face, her eyes focused ahead of her as her arms gripped the broom, weaving in and out of the strands of pollen. She looked down briefly, flashing a small smile.

“Keep your head down Akko.” Akko tucked herself down as Ursula shot through the pollen, a pained cry coming from her lips as the small particles tore at her skin, each one streaking past her like a small comet.

The broom wobbled underneath her, Ursula trying to wrench the broom back under control as she felt weaker by the second. She watched a streak of pollen pass through a strand of her hair, turning it back to its bright red color for a moment. Her stomach plummeted, anxiety shooting through her as she realized that she could no longer control her broom, the now useless piece of wood hurtling towards the ground. She curled around Akko as she willed any magic left through her body.

The sound of wood splintering shattered the silence at the base of the Wakandea tree, a dull thud of impact following it as a plume of dust was sent up from the impact. Akko rolled over, blearily sitting up with a groan. She blinked through the dust, looking around and trying to peer at the shape next to her.

“Professor?” Akko called out, stumbling over towards the figure as the dust cleared just enough to make out who was lying in front of her. “Professor!” she shook Ursula’s shoulder a small groan coming from the woman as Akko pulled her over, clutching onto her shoulders as tears welled behind her eyes.

“No, no, come on get up professor.” Akko felt a tear run down her cheek, landing on the Shiny Rod as it started to glow brightly, lifting up into the air and hovering in front of Akko.

“Lyone.” Ursula’s raspy voice caused Akko to look down, the woman letting out a soft cough. “I know that you can figure it out Akko.” A tear ran down her cheek, her lips twisted in a half smile. “You remind me so much of me, but brighter and stronger than I ever have been.”

“Lyone.” Akko repeated, looking down at her trembling hands as Ursula nodded. “I can do this professor, I have my friends, and my heart,” Akko smiled as she looked down, a tear falling from her face as the Shiny Rod grew brighter, “And I have you. You’ve always helped me try to be the best witch I could be. Thank you.”

Green light swirled around the two of them, Ursula lifted off of the ground, magic flowing into her as she hovered in the air. Her cuts closed, the magic seeping into her as she shimmered with green light. As the light faded Akko watched a pair of glasses fall to the ground, Ursula still glowing too brightly to see.

As the light faded Akko felt her stomach turn, blinking in shock as the light revealed Chariot Du’Nord, the lost performer, Akko’s idol, standing in front of her. The last bits of purple faded from the end of her bright red hair as she smiled gently at Akko.

“Thank you Akko. I knew you could do it.” A smile stretched across her face as Akko was thrown back into her childhood, watching Chariot grin at the audience with reckless abandon.

“Chariot?”

Chapter Text

Amanda plummeted through the darkness, letting out a whoop of exhilaration as she fell, clutching Diana’s journal as they fell down the trap door from the Green team’s room. Amanda hit a smooth stone slide, letting out a grunt of pain before she started to slide down, picking up speed.

The slide ended suddenly, sending Amanda tumbling to the ground before she popped back up from a roll. A sudden weight crashed into her back sending her face first into the floor. Constanze got up from Amanda’s back, brushing her hands off.

“Where are we?” Diana said, her words echoing around the underground room.

“This is Constanze’s lab,” Amanda pushed herself off the ground with a groan, cracking her back, “Pretty neat huh? She found this place already hollowed out. We think these tunnels have been around for a while, but no one was using them.” She fumbled on the wall, flipping a switch as the room flooded with light.

Piles of electronics were stuffed in the corners of the room, spilling out into smaller piles scattered around haphazardly. A few small robots shambled around, moving supplies from table to table. A large steel framework towered over everything else in room, bots swarming over it. Sparks flew around the room as Constanze watched the work with a small grin, a prideful expression on her face.

Amanda let out a low whistle, craning her neck to take in the whole project. The steel scaffolding formed a rough shape of a ship, stretching almost up to the top of the cavern. “Damn Cons,” she elbowed the shorter witch in the shoulder, “You’ve got all of these little guys workin on this huh?”

Constanze pushed her hand away, turning towards the branching tunnels as she strode off. Amanda rolled her eyes fondly, picking up Diana as they followed her into the tunnels. The witches walked in silence, carrying forward before the tunnel opened up into a small cave, a natural junction with a few branching paths snaking off from the small space.

A small beeping noise came from a tablet in Constanze’s hands, the short witch holding it up and turning in to each of the entrances. When the tablet was pointed towards the farthest tunnel on the left the beeping increased, speeding up to almost a humming noise as Constanze switched it off and pointed down the small tunnel.

“How does that machine work?” Diana asked as they walked down the narrow tunnel.

“It measures power usage,” Amanda stooped down as the tunnel ceiling sloped downward, “Croix uses a lot of magitech right? Well that is going to need a lot of power, sooo…”

“So you track where she is pulling the electricity from.” Diana finished. “That is brilliant well done Constanze.”

“What if it was my idea huh?” Amanda shot back.

The tunnel fell silent, Amanda’s huff of indignation breaking the silence as Constanze laughed, Amanda rolling her eyes fondly.

“I see how it is. My own team, turned against me.” Amanda grinned, dramatically sighing. The three giggled as they rounded the corner, coming up to a metal wall cutting off the tunnel. Amanda looked over the wall, stooping down as she found a vent, wedging her wand into the seam.

“Murowa.” Amanda muttered, a flash of light and a loud snap filling the tunnel as the vent cover went spinning away into the darkness. Amanda twirled her wand before bowing dramatically, Constanze moving past her and entering the vent.

The vent was dim, barely enough light to navigate through the twisting metal passageway. Muffled voices made Constanze stop, tilting her head as she tried to listen. She nodded her head left, Amanda following her as the voice got louder. The two shuffled quietly through the vents, stopping above a grate.

Light poured through the slits, casting a dim lines of light in the tunnel. “Log 074.” Croix voice carried through the vent, the two witches peering through and trying to see into the space below.

Croix stood below them, her hands splayed out on a desk as she spoke into a recorder. The laboratory below was bathed in a soft red light, tinting the the desks that were scattered around the room; most of the desks were piled high with small components and paperwork, forming several towers that looked like it would collapse at any moment.

“Usage of the Shiny Rod no longer necessary.” Croix continued, “Continued tests of the emotional draining units have resulted in better than expected results.” Croix let out a small chuckle, turning to see something on another screen.

“Well, well, well Chariot.” Croix stepped out of view, the girls pressing their faces closer to try to see. “I didn’t think you would actually do it.” A few small cubes floated up and streamed around the lab.

“Those are the things that made up that monster.” Amanda whispered, “Are they hers?” Constanze narrowed her eyes as Amanda chewed on her lip.

“It should be just about time.” Croix strode back into view, the small cubes swirling around her head, forming an orbit. “Time to go greet an old friend.” She continued walking, the young witches freezing in place as they heard a door slide open and shut. Silence filled the laboratory for a few minutes, th

“What is she doing,” Amanda peered through the grate, watching as a dull red light pulsed from inside of the laboratory. “Do you think it’s safe to go down there?” she turned to Constanze, receiving a shrug in return.

“I think it’s best if-” A flash of light filled the cramped tunnel, the witches yelping in surprise. A large crash filled the laboratory, the witches groaning in pain as they fell.

“What was that?” Amanda groaned, pulling herself up using a work table.

“I am not too sure.” Diana rubbed her head, wincing at soreness there. She froze for a moment, staring at her hand as she felt around on the ground, picking up her journal and staring at it.

“Oh thank the nine.” She let out a sigh, the realization coming over her. Akko must have figured out the sixth word, she thought to herself.

A small pat on her shoulder caused her too look up, Constanze offering her a hand as Diana got up. “Thank you Constanze.” Diana nodded slightly.

Amanda walked over and slapped Diana on the back. “Welcome to the party Cavendish.” She grinned, Diana feeling her lips quirk up slightly.

Diana spun around slowly, taking in the sights of the large laboratory. The laboratory opened up into a huge cavern, set up in it a large version of the Shiny Rod. The metal was black and red, bright red gems sparkling even in the dim light. All seven large gems pulsed softly, giving off the red light that they had seen from the vents. The Shiny Rod dwarfed the lab, stretching to the tops of the cavern and nearly wide enough to take up the whole space.

“What is that?” Diana muttered, the two other witches turning, both of them halting in shock.

“Whoa.” Amanda took a half step forward before stopping, peering at the machine. “What would Professor Croix be doing with something like this?”

“That’s what we have to find out.” Diana muttered, walking over to one of the tables and shifting through the papers on the desk. She noticed Constanze and Amanda poking around one of the computer terminals out of the corner of her eye. She blinked in confusion as she flipped through newspaper clippings, printouts of events, and even a football schedule; the latest date for that one circled in red ink.

She gripped the paper as she wandered over to Amanda, trying to puzzle out why Croix would have these laying around. “Amanda.” The witch gave a questioning hum as she turned, Diana holding out the papers to show Amanda. “Look at these.”

“Wait that is the football game going on right now. Why would this be so important?” Amanda scratched the side of her head. An electronic chime caused both her and Diana to spin around, looking at Constanze standing proudly next to a beeping computer terminal.

“Nice Cons!” Amanda pulled Diana over, the three of them crowding around the screen as Constanze pulled up files. “Preliminary testing, magic drain results, boiling point…” Amanda read the files as Constanze sorted through them. “Couldn’t she just put everything in one place?” she muttered.

“Wait, there.” Diana pointed, Constanze stopping her scrolling, the three witches exchanging skeptical glances.

“It can’t be that easy, right?” Amanda scratched her head, the three of them looking at the file on the terminal, the mouse hovering over it. “I mean…” she gestured at the screen, the file labeled ‘Secret Plans’ staring back at them.

“Do we have any other choice?” Diana sighed, rubbing her the bridge of her nose. Small green sparks of light came off of her skin, wincing as she realized that she was close to returning to her journal.

Constanze shrugged, clicking the file as red light flooded the room, small flying disks popping up from the ground as Amanda winced.

“Stay with Cons!” she yelled, sliding underneath one of the disks as she shot a spell upwards, a small explosion sending the disk spiraling out of control and into one of the desks.

Diana bit her lip, watching Amanda move between the disks, using the desks as cover as she shot them down. Constanze stepped in front of her, pulling out her wand as it folded out into a gun. She rapidly fired two shots, both of them punching holes into an approaching disks.

A slight hum came from behind Diana, causing her to whirl around as she saw a disk making a beeline for her and Constanze. She looked at her arm, small holes in her skin as her arm started to dissolved into light. She pulled out her wand, trying to pull all of the power left from the spell as she let out a shaky sigh.

“Come on Diana.” She muttered to herself, holding her wand out at her side. She took a step forward, using her foot to push off as she sent her wand up in an arc.

Her wand flashed, a blade of energy bursting from the top of the wand as she sliced the machine apart. The sword gleamed in the dim red light of the room as the two pieces of the disk clattered to the ground.

A flash of light filled the lab as Diana disappeared, Constanze bending down to pick up her journal as Amanda dispatched the last few disks, vaulting over a table as she shot the last one out of the air.

“Let’s hope this was worth it.” Amanda grumbled as she walked over, brushing some metal shards off of her vest. She went over to the computer terminal, quickly reading as she blinked in shock, her expression falling as she leaned into the screen.

Constanze walked over, propping Diana up as they scanned the screen along with her. Diana felt her stomach turn the more that she read. Siphoning powers from people’s emotions, tricking Akko into letting her study the Shiny Rod, even finding some way to have Akko give up on her search for the seven words…

Anger roiled in Diana’s gut, her expression hardening. The more she read the more the plans seemed to seem more solid; using a large event to create anger at feed the system that would give power to the Noir Rod, and eventually unlock the gate herself.

“We need to get the others.” Amanda’s voice was uncharacteristically serious, her eyes darting down to meet Constanze’s eyes. “Cons, grab the rest of the team.” Constanze nodded, Amanda taking Diana’s journal from her.

“Diana, we have to find out where Croix went.” Diana nodded, the three taking off from the lab and splitting off at the hallway.

‘Please be okay Akko.’ Diana thought, her and Amanda racing through the corridors of Luna Nova.

Silence filled the small clearing, Chariot shifting uncomfortably as Akko stared at her unblinking. Chariot opened her mouth to say something, the words dying on her tongue as she hastily snapped her mouth shut. Anxiety pooled in her gut, what was the young witch thinking? Was she disappointed?

“Er-” She tries to stumble out, immediately interrupted as Akko lunged forward, grabbing Chariot’s hands as her eyes sparkled in joy.

“It really is you!” Akko yelled, a grin stretching across her face. “Why did you have to hide? Did you mean all of those things? What did that pollen do to you?”

“Slow down Akko.” Chariot laughed, a feeling of relief coming over her.

Akko sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck, scuffing her feet in the dirt. “Sorry its just,” she gestured aimlessly with her hands, “I didn’t think that I would actually ever meet you. There are so many things I want to ask you.”

Chariot smiled softly, stepping forward before she felt a wave of dizziness come over her, resting her hand on a tree to stabilize herself.

“Are you alright?” Akko ran over, helping Chariot stay upright as Chariot felt pride and guilt war in her gut. She tried to reach for her magic, feeling her head grow dizzy as a small flicker of energy pulsed through her.

“I seem to have lost most of the connection with my magic.” She winced at the irony, Akko frowning for a second. “I might need to find another way to get back to Luna Nova.” She tried to ignore the small voice in the back of her head that told her to come clean, to just tell her the truth about her time as Chariot; about Akko’s magic.

“We can just use the Shiny Rod.” Akko said, waving the question off as she helped Chariot sit down on a a tree trunk.

“You say that like it is nothing to be able to use the words.” Chariot chuckled, “I’m proud of you Astusko.”

Akko let out a soft squeal, clenching her fists in victory. Chariot laughed slightly, stretching out the soreness in her arms.

“I have so many questions!” Akko reached into her pocket pulling out a small sheet of paper. Chariot smiled softly, watching Akko unfold the paper into several sheets of paper, writing legible on both sides.

“Have you been carrying that around this entire time?” Chariot jokingly asked, a serious expression on Akko’s face.

“Yes, I made sure to be prepared.” Akko found a grin stretching across her face again. “And I was right! I did find you.”

Chariot let a laugh bubble up from her chest, letting a small bit of tension roll off of her. She coughed, catching her breath as she tried to smile. The first rays of sunlight peeked through the trees, filtering through the Wakandea’s pollen.

“We should get back,” Chariot stood up, brushing off her outfit as she stared up at she sky. “You can ask your questions on the way back.” Akko let out a whoop of victory as she held the Shiny Rod over her head, the wand glowing before it turned into the Shiny Valley broom, Akko excitedly hopping on as Chariot followed.

--

The sun had risen over the top of Luna Nova’s spire as Shiny Valley set down inside the main courtyard of Luna Nova, the broom dissipating into 6 stars as Akko hopped off. The grin had not left her face since Chariot had appeared. She had turned around every few moments during the journey to make sure that she wasn’t dreaming; that Chariot really was there.

“Thank you Akko.” Chariot smiled, patting Akko on the shoulder. The bright grin on the young witch’s face made her stomach turn, guilt pooling in her gut.

“Now we should head in before-”

“Before what?” Croix interrupted Chariot, stepping out from the shadows of the trees on the edge of the courtyard.

“Why Chariot,” Croix smirked, resting a hand on her chest in mock surprise, “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

Chariot winced, squeezing her eyes shut. ‘Not now, not now.’

“Did you know that Professor Ursula was Chariot the whole time?” Akko excitedly asked. “Is that how you knew about the words? And where to find them?”

Croix’s smile widened, stepping forward as she locked eyes with Chariot. “Oh I know Chariot very well,” She said slowly, “I helped her find the words, and even helped her create her act.”

Akko looked back at Chariot, “How did you do it? I know that a lot of witches say that what you did was impossible. But I always knew that it was the Shiny Rod, and the power of your believing heart.”

Chariot looked away, unable to meet Akko’s eyes. Croix laughed, a rumbling chuckle coming from her as she waved her hand in front of her.

“I’m sorry,” she said through her laughter, “I didn’t think anyone actually believed in that nonsense about a believing heart.”

“Croix, stop.” Chariot said softly, feeling her stomach drop like lead. There was no way that she could get out of this without revealing her secret. She felt her former connection with magic twinge, as if to taunt her.

“Stop?” Croix’s eyes were alight as she held out her arms. “Why would I stop when there is truth to be told.” Akko tilted her head, Croix looking at her as she started to speak.

“Everything, all of the magic that Chariot did, it was never hers.” Akko blinked in confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, she did have some magic, but how do you think that she was able to cast those spells constantly? With so much flair? She-”

“I stole it.” Chariot interrupted Croix, watching as the smile got wider on the woman’s face. “ I-I wasn’t enough to do it by myself.” She turned away, unable to face Akko.

“It was the only thing that I could do. I was running out of options, and there was not enough energy to power the gate.” Chariot spoke in a monotone, her mind cast backwards into the past.

A younger Croix, excitedly telling her about the new way to do magic, a new possibility to get around unlocking the seventh word. Chariot, exhausted after every single show, eventually agreeing and being mystified when suddenly she could perform so much more magic. The justifications she used seemed weak now, ringing hollowly in her ears as she sighed.

“Whatever I told myself to get myself to do it, it wasn’t worth it.” Chariot turned back around, taking in the confused look on Akko’s face. “During my shows, I took the magic from the crowd.”

Akko felt her mouth dry, her stomach churning as she remembered the small fairy made out of light flying out of her chest, joining the flock of other spirits as they soared into the air and towards the Shiny Rod. She felt the Shiny Rod slip from her fingers as she wrung her hands together.

“What- what do you mean?” she stammered out, focused on Chariot as the woman hung her head.

“You can’t do magic because I took yours.” Chariot’s words echoed in Akko’s head.

“That can’t be true.” She realized that she said that aloud, the words muffled to her as her mind raced, trying to come up with some sort of explanation.

“It is.” Chariot’s words broke something in her, sending her physically stumbling backwards, her foot bumping up against the bench behind her.

Her wand hung heavily on her sash as Akko felt her hand drift towards it, a reminder of her magic. Of how her magic refused to work.

“You- but- why?” the words almost died on her tongue, barely able to get out a question.

“I was wrong, and I am sorry.” Chariot hung her head unable to meet Akko’s eyes. Silence hung over the courtyard, neither one of them speaking, or willing to speak. Snow started to fall, creating a serene image that clashed with the inner tumult both of them were feeling.

The sound of rapid footsteps on the snow drew her eyes, watching silently as Akko took off, racing through the courtyard. Chariot stepped forward hesitantly, stepping over to where the Shiny rod laid on the ground.

“Just how long did you think you could keep that secret?” Croix walked over to her, stopping as she bumped into Chariot’s shoulder. “You never were able to keep a secret Chariot.” Croix sighed, looking up at the snow.

“I’m going to do it Chariot.” Croix lowered her voice, barely audible as a soft wind blew through the courtyard. “I’m going to finish what we started so long ago. With or without you.” Croix walked off, leaving Chariot standing in the snow.

The morning light caught the Shiny Rod, Chariot bending down to pick it up as she heard footsteps on the cobblestone. She looked up, seeing Amanda standing in front of her, Diana’s journal tucked under her arm.

“Why do you have the Shiny Rod.” Diana asked, Amanda catching her breath.

“And,” Amanda held up a hand as she panted, exhausted from the fight and then run through the brisk morning, “Where is Akko?”

Chariot pointed to where she saw Akko run off towards, before turning the Shiny Rod around in her hands. “I really messed this up.” She mumbled. Diana narrowed her eyes taking in the woman’s uniform and her fiery red hair. She tilted her head, trying to remember where she had seen the woman before.

“You’re Chariot.” She breathed out the answer, remembering the poster hanging in Akko’s dorm. Chariot flinched, Amanda’s eyes lighting up in realization

“No way.” Amanda said, looking in between the journal and Chariot. “Holy shit you’re right. What are you doing here? Why isn’t Akko fangirling right now?”

“She found out the truth,” Chariot sighed, watching the reflection of her face in the Shiny Rod, “I am the reason she can’t do magic.” Her voice was low and defeated.

A snarling pit awoke in her stomach, anger filling her eyes. The person who Akko looked up to? Who told her to always believe in herself? And she was just standing here?

“Well go after her!” Diana yelled, Amanda startling as she opened the journal, revealing Diana’s glare. “She adores you. You are the whole reason she is here in the first place.” Each sentence made Chariot flinch, the words hammering into her heart.

Diana grit her teeth, her hands balling into fits, knowing that if she was out of the journal that her nails would be digging into her palms. “You are her hero.” she growled out, “So go be her hero.”

Chariot blinked, stunned as she felt her mouth dry, fumbling for words. Silence fell over the three before Diana huffed. “Fine.” her words were cold, a strength to them. “Come on Amanda, we have to find her.”

Amanda nodded, taking off in the direction that Chariot had silently pointed them towards. Chariot stood there, looking at her hands as she tried in vain to reach for her connection with magic. She clenched her hands, steeling her expression as she looked up.

Akko had never given up on trying to find the words, trying to find her. The nine take her if she was going to give up on her now. Chariot took off after the young witches, clutching the Shiny Rod tightly in her fists as she took off through the freshly fallen snow.

Chapter Text

The crunch of snow under Amanda’s feet seemed deafening to Diana, echoing in her ears as her brain struggled to figure out what to do. She was unable to do anything but desperately hope that they were going to be able to find Akko in time. Every moment that passed seemed to drag on endlessly, thoughts bouncing around her head.

‘What if they couldn’t find her? What if Akko lost her spark after this?’ Her thoughts were muffled by the noises from outside, her mind registering the sound of other footsteps meeting up with Amanda, a voice pulling her out of her spiraling thoughts.

“Amanda!” Lotte’s voice pulled Diana out of her thoughts, sound flooding her senses again. The wind picking up twigs and scattering them around the ground, the footsteps and heavy breaths of the rest of the Red and Green teams as they ran towards Amanda, stopping just short of her.

“Where’s Akko?” Sucy asked, a slight crack in her usual deadpan tone. “Did you find her yet?”

“We don’t know,” Diana said, barely keeping her voice under control, “She ran off to nine knows where.” Frustration leaked out of her voice, the pounding starting in her head again.

“Uh- girls. You should see this.” Jasminka said, the group turning as Constanze held up a tablet. A video was playing on the screen, showing a scene from Blytonbury; two crowds stood opposing each other as they shouted back and forth, the yelling of the crowd crackling from the small speakers.

A bottle was thrown, seeming to launch the crowds into action, jostling each other as a few people from the side tried to step in. A fist was thrown as one of the bystanders went down, a loud roar from the crowd. The witches watched as small fights began to break out in in the streets of the town.

“Shit.” The witches all turned in shock to Lotte, the small witch pointing towards the town, shock on her face.

“Oh shit.” Amanda muttered. Tendrils of red energy surged upward from the small town, flowing into large ropes that stretched up into the sky. The witches could barely make out small hovering cubes that the magic seemed to flow into. “Is that?”

“Emotional energy.” The two teams turned around to see Chariot standing behind them, holding onto the shiny rod. She cradled it to her chest, a wistful expression on her face. “Croix’s magitech.” She muttered, her voice muffled in the wind.

“She wants to use the energy.” Diana said, shocked at the sight of so much energy in one place.

“Yes.” Chariot sighed, the other witches huddled around her as she looked around nervously. “She wants to break the seal on the Grand Triskellion, and unlock all the magic within.”

“But you need the Shiny Rod for that,” Lotte said, “And the words, and she doesn’t know them right?”

“She knows enough, and might have enough energy with all of this emotional energy to try to force her way through the last word.” Chariot sighed, looking up to the rest of the girls. “We have to try to find Akko.”

The witches turned to Diana, the witch hesitating for a moment before asking incredulously, “Me? How would I know?”

An awkward silence fell over the small group, Amanda clearing her throat with a large grin on her face. “Well,” she started, “You two do seem to be close, so close even-” she started.

“O’Niel if you finish that sentence I will find a way to hurt you.” Diana said harshly, a round of chuckles passing through the group. ‘Where would Akko go?’ the question echoed in Diana’s mind.

“I-” Diana started, trying to figure out any lead that she could. “She liked the blue moon tower.” Diana mumbled, the statement almost coming out as a question as the rest of the witches looked at each other.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Amanda said shrugging, “At least that is something of a start.” She turned away from the sight of the machines pulling in emotional energy. “Lets go, we have an Akko to find.”

“Akko!”

She was unable to feel her fingers. She knew that they were tapping against her thigh, she could feel the small pinpricks of cold against her skin.

“Akko! Where are you?”

Snow fell off of her shoulders as she stirred, adding to the small pile that grew on the bench. She shivered, some of the feeling returning to her arms as she clutched her arms to herself harder.

“Akko!”

“She’s over here!” the two voices mingled together, slowly stirring Akko from her stupor. Hands shook her shoulders, peering up. Her eyelids cracked open, almost frosted over as she let out an unconscious shiver.

“For nine’s sake Amanda she needs to be warm.” That was Diana’s voice, Akko sluggishly registered. Warmth started to flood her senses; slowly blinking as she noticed the a warm blanket around her shoulders.

“Diana?” Akko croaked out, her voice was sore, having cried until no more tears could come. She had not paid attention to where she was going, the snow coming down around her as she eventually stumbled into a bench and sat down. She had been trapped in her thoughts since then.

“I’m here Akko,” Diana’s voice made her smile, looking around as shapes came more into focus, “We all are here.”

Jasminka and Sucy had their hands raised at the edge of the group, both of them concentrating with their wands out; a a shimmering dome extended from them to above the small group, blocking the weather from entering. Snow melted, streaming down the dome in small rivulets of water. Warmth pulsed from the inner sides of the dome, making Akko relax as feeling returned to her body.

“Wh- you all are here.” Akko sputtered out, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. All of her friends, Diana, and… She blinked, caught in confusion. There, standing on the outskirts of the group of young witches, was Chariot. She shuffled in the background, her hands behind her back as she tried to give a nervous smile.

“You think we were just going to let you sit out here and freeze yourself half to death?” Amanda wiped the snow from the bench, plopping down next to Akko. She set Diana’s journal on her lap, open to the mirror and Diana looked up at Akko with a worried expression.

“We were worried about you.” Lotte sat down on the other side, the rest of the group crowding around her as Akko smiled.

A rumbling came from the ground, everyone turning as they saw the ground in the distance start to crack, red light shining from below. Akko clutched Diana to her, all of them watching open mouthed as the ground slid away, opening up to reveal a cavernous hole in the ground. The red streams of energy from overhead arced down, flowing into hole in the ground. Red jagged bursts of energy came from inside, like lighting flashes as Chariot’s face paled.

“Oh no.” She muttered, her mouth going dry as she watched the emotional energy flow into the ground. She turned back to the younger witches, sighing as she pulled the Shiny Rod out from behind her back.

“We have to hurry.” She said, the group turning to look at Akko. Akko looked at the Shiny Rod, her mouth twisted into a small frown. Part of her felt an itch to grab it, to take the Shiny Rod and finish the words. Her eyes looked to the side, biting her lip.

“You can do it.” Akko muttered, refusing to look up. “I don’t have magic remember.” She said bitterly, trying to look away from the Shiny Rod. All of the words that she had unlocked, all of the time she had spent practicing, the scrapes and bruises from trying so desperately to fly; was that just luck, or fate cruelly mocking her.

All that she had ever wanted to do was make people smile through magic, meet her idol and maybe have the chance to tell her how much it meant to watch her preform magic, to have ignited that spark that drove her forward. She found her eyes pulled up, looking at Chariot. She still had on Professor Ursula’s robe, the purple contrasting with the bright red of her hair, the sight creating a strange rift in her mind.

Her teacher was Chariot, Chariot taught her about the words, Chariot told her… Her gut flipped, looking down as her eyes stared vacantly at the snow.

“Was it pity?” Her words cut through still air of the bubble that they were in, causing Chariot to flinch and turn her head. “You had to know from the beginning. Is that why you taught me?”

Chariot tried to form words, all of them dying on her lips as the rest of the witches gathered around Akko. Amanda and Lotte looked at each other over Akko, both of them frowning slightly.

“Atsuko.” Diana’s voice broke the silence, Akko looking down at her as Diana stared from the mirror. Diana’s eyes shone with determination, staring directly into her own. “Your magic is different from anything else I have ever seen. It isn’t in flight, or in casting spells, or potions; its your heart.” The world seemed to fade from Akko’s perception, her eyes locked on Diana as she felt her eyes shine with tears.

“I almost gave up,” Diana smiled sadly, “Sitting in a dusty library, years between anything happening to me. But you, you found me.” Diana’s lips turned up in a smile, Akko’s heart pounding in her chest. “You talked to me, treated me like a person, found ways for me to try to interact with the world. You gave me friends. You gave me hope, you gave me l-.” Diana blushed, clearing her throat awkwardly.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your magic yet, because I believe that the magic you have right now is stronger than any magic a witch could ever cast. You feel and believe, and that is your magic.” Diana placed a hand over her heart, a smile on her face. Amanda put one hand on Akko’s shoulder a grin on her face.

“Takes a lot of guts to try to tame an ancient broom just to try to beat me in a race. Which I still say you cheated.” She bumped into Akko’s shoulders, a small laugh escaping both of them. “But I think if there was anyone who could pull some ancient magic out of no where, its you.”

“You always were there,” Lotte chimed up from the other side, “You gave me confidence. When I felt that I couldn’t do it you dragged me forward with your pure force of will. You never gave up, and you have never let any of us down.” Akko’s eyes swam with tears, the rest of the witches stepping forward.

“I guess you aren’t all bad as a test subject.” Sucy let the spell protecting them fade, the cold snow falling around them again as she stepped forward. “And you maybe have some redeeming qualities.” Her lips quirked up for a moment to an approximation of a smile. “But only some, and you have to look hard to find them.” She hurriedly tried to cover up any sign of emotions as Akko gave a watery laugh.

Constanze patter her leg, giving a small nod and a thumbs up, Akko feeling her heart lifted as Jasminka put a hand on her shoulder, giving her a supportive smile. “Your kindness seems to never end,” Jasminka said, “And you always have something surprising to win the day.”

“You are not alone Akko.” Diana said, Akko feeling her lips move into a large grin. “You have all of us, and we are not going anywhere.”

Chariot stepped forward, her movements hesitant as she stopped in front of Akko. The Shiny Rod felt cold in her grip, not only from the temperature, but from the memories that she had with it. She let it consumer her life, she let it tear her away from her life. Chasing after the stars had left her stranded, no more Chariot, and no more Croix.

She awkwardly cleared her throat. “I’m sorry.” Akko opened her mouth, closing it as she sat there, waiting for Chariot to keep talking.

“There were many witches who thought they could open the Grand Triskellion. Many before me tried, and none of them succeeded. I thought,” Chariot looked up, watching Croix magitech fly overhead, “I thought that we could do it, Croix and I. But I was wrong, I was oh so wrong.”

“I pushed magic too hard, and it pushed back.” Chariot held up her wand, the barest hint of a spark coming from it. “When Croix gave me a way to try to solve the puzzle I took it, and I lead us both here.” Chariot held out the Shiny Rod, resting it on her palms in front of Akko.

“The magic was never within the Shiny Rod, it was never in how many words you could learn, or in how flashy your spells are. Your magic is your heart.” Akko reached out, hesitating with her hand hovering over the Shiny Rod.

“I chose to train you because I saw that spark in you, I saw the strength of your believing heart.” Akko’s hand closed around the Shiny Rod with Chariot’s words. “You Atsuko, are a greater witch than anyone that I have ever known.” The Shiny Rod sparkled, the gems lighting up as Akko lifted it over her head.

A wind picked up, swirling the snow around them as Akko stood up. She looked around, a determined spark in her eyes; all of her friends were here with her. There was only one word left to go.

A roaring sound came from the ground, the witches watching as the shiny black metallic Noir Rod rose from the earth. Small bright red cubes of energy floated around it as the rod shimmered, the heat from the machine melting the ice around it. Croix stood on top of the Noir Rod as it floated above the ground, her cape flapping behind her.

Red light flashed, causing everyone to turn their eyes. When the light faded from the edge of their vision the witches looked up; the Noir Rod had disappeared, the faintest bit of red energy shimmering in the air where it had been.

Akko turned to the rest of them, feeling the Shiny Rod pulse with power in her hand, she could do this, she knew she could. And she wouldn’t be alone.

“Come on guys, let’s go save the world!”

Chapter Text

Red light bathed the entire clearing in an eerie glow, Croix standing proud as the noir rod slowly floated into place. The black and red metal stood in stark contrast to the bright green of the trees surrounding her. A large stone disk, well weathered and near worn down to nothing, was in the center of the clearing; the Noir Rod came to hover directly above it.

“And now,” Croix said, a wide grin on her face, “We begin.” She tapped a button on her tablet, the seven artificial gems glowing brightly as red electricity started arcing between them. The small drones hovered in the air, a chilling silence hanging over the clearing for a moment. 

Electricity rent the air, the drones humming as the emotional energy flowed into the Noir Rod, each of the gems lighting up in turn. “Come on, come on.” Croix muttered, keeping an eye on the readout on the tablet. The readout flickered, letting out a small beep. “Yes!” Croix cheered, the Noir Rod fully glowing. 

The ground shook, the stone shifting slightly as the red energy flowed into ground, shining through small cracks in the earth before the ground settled. Croix waited with baited breath, swearing under her breath as the clearing continued to be still. “More power, more power.” She muttered, pressing a button, the Noir Rod shaking as it started to absorb more and more emotional energy.

She looked up, her eyes widening in surprise. “Shit.”

On the horizon streams of red energy flowed arced toward the clearing. -How much energy did they even collect- Croix thought, the tablet at her hip starting to beep alarmingly. The energy flowed into the rod, the metal creaking as it tried to contain that much energy. Croix tapped frantically on the buttons on her tablet, trying to shut down the Noir Rod. 

The clearing stilled, the air hanging heavily and crackling with electricity. Croix, sighed in relief hearing nothing as she looked up, her mouth falling open. The Noir Rod was unfolding the red energy linking with the metal and forming a large draconic shape. The tablet in her hands sparked, shocking her as she dropped it and shook out her hand. The Noir dragon roared, the maw full of sharp metal and red swirling energy. 

It lumbered toward Croix, still forming as Croix pinwheeled backward, trying to keep her footing as she fell back onto the ground. The dragon reared, about to lunge as it gave a victorious cry. 

Crunch. 

The sound of metal bending in on itself echoed as the dragons head went sideways, Croix looking up in shock as she saw Chariot, feet planted into the side of the dragons head before she sprung backwards off of it, landing in front of her. 

“Get out of here!” she yelled, running toward the dragon, Croix watched as other figures ran past her, the red and green teams fanning out as the looked at the dragon. 

“What in the nine.” Amanda muttered, watching as Chariot barely dodged the claw that came down on her, it clipping her side as she went down. “Akko!” Amanda yelled, Akko stepping up confidently as she twirled the Shiny Rod in front of her. 

“Shiny!” She yelled, trying to force as much energy and desperation into the rod. “Ballista!” The Shiny Rod folded outward, Akko holding onto the back of the ballista as Sucy and Lotte grabbed either side, pulling back the sides of the ballista as a large arrow formed on it. Akko fired it, reeling back as the arrow shot toward the dragon. 

The dragon twisted, avoiding the arrow narrowly as its form broke up for a moment. The Shiny Rod shimmered back into its original form, Akko leading the charge forward. They took off towards the dragon, Croix trying to call out after them. “Wait!” Her words didn’t reach them, the girls already bolting for the dragon. 

Akko shook the Shiny Rod, the wand briefly sparking before going out, looking at the other witches around her. “I need more time.” She said, the red and green teams nodding. 

“Alright you heard the her,” Amanda stepped forward, drawing her wand as she held it pointed toward the dragon, “It’s time to be the distraction.”  She rushed forward, the rest of the green and red team members following her as they pulled out their wands. 

Hitting the Shiny Rod Akko grumbled to herself, trying to figure out how long it would take to recharge the wand. “Akko.” Diana’s voice shook her from her attention. “I have spare energy, I can feel it.” Her mirror shimmered, rippling like the surface of a pool. 

“No, no I can’t-” Akko waved her suggestion off.

“Akko, you are not alone you know?” Akko’s words died in her throat as she looked up. 

The Noir Dragon circled as the witches stood arrayed around it, Amanda shouting taunt as it swiped at her, managing to back flip out of the way of each strike, twirling on her broom as she narrowly avoided a large swipe. 

A claw came down, Amanda too slow to move before the dragon was knocked sideways. Jasminka and Chariot plowed into the side of the dragon, sending it reeling away, Jasminka glowing with energy. The dragon whirled to face them, Sucy diving past its face as she lobbed a handful of potions into its face, the glass vials shattering and erupting into a series of colorful explosions. 

Akko could see Constanze preparing what looked like a complicated spell, Lotte coaxing spirits from behind trees and out from the ground as she concentrated. She looked back at the journal, Diana patiently waiting, a hard look on her face. 

“Okay.” Akko smiled, holding out the Shiny Rod, placing Diana’s journal up against it as she pushed her will into the rod, Diana joining in. The Shiny Arc formed in her hand, holding it steady as she took aim. 

“Cons!” Amanda yelled, Constanze raising her wand as metal rose from the ground, Lotte throwing her hand out as the spirits grabbed onto the ends of the metal, trapping the dragon in place for only a moment before hit shook them off. 

A moment was all that Akko needed, pulling back the Shiny Arc and firing, a flash of blue light streaking across the clearing as it pierced into the head of the dragon. The arrow erupted into a mess of energy, capturing the dragon and spiraling in on itself the dragon torn apart, dissolving into a mess of small red cubes that scattered in the wind. 

The group paused, waiting as silence filled the clearing again. A round of sighs swept through them, Akko holding the Shiny Rod as they moved towards the middle of the clearing. Akko looked at the patterns on the stone disk on the ground, moving over to the center of it. Croix sat off to the side, her head down as Akko walked past her. 

She paused in the center, looking down at Shiny Rod. She chewed her lip, turning the Shiny Rod in her hand. This, this was it. A hand on her shoulder made her look up, meeting Chariot’s eyes. “You know,” Chariot started, a small smile on her face, “If there was anyone who could do this, it would be you. I may have made many mistakes, but, mentoring you was not one.” She gave Akko a pat on the shoulder gently. “If I am to have any legacy, I would want it to be you.” 

Akko smiled, turning to the rest of her friends, a tear in the corner of her eye. “I may mess up, and maybe I can’t fly, or do all the magic that everyone else can.” She held the Shiny Rod aloft, the gems on it glowing brightly. “But I won’t stop trying, I will never  give up, not until I can make everyone smile.” 

The designs etched into the ground glowed, Akko’s hair ruffling as it kicked up wind. “And I have all of you with me. Together, we can change the world!” She felt a something well in her chest, the words floating into her mind. She silently thanked her friends, and the Shiny Rod, focusing on that feeling of warmth, of friendship. 

“Phasansheer Shearylla!”

A bright light washed over the group, Akko letting the Shiny Rod out of her hands as it hung in the air, the bright light from it obscuring its form before the light died, a small twig hanging in the air. Akko grabbed the small twig, looking around as everyone looked quizzically at her. The Shiny Rod in one hand a small twig in the other, Akko looked around at the rest of the witches. “Umm…” 

“Well go on,” Diana’s voice came from beside her, her form half shimmering in the air, almost ghost like. “Give it a try.” Akko smiled, turning back to the two wands and crossing them together, holding them up again. 

“Phasansheer Shearylla.” The second repetition of the word causing the two wands to break apart, twisting together as a new wand appeared in her hands. The wand was a cross shape, the seven gems on it glowing brightly on it. The wand let out a pulse of light, a wind that almost blew the hats off of a few of the witches standing around. 

Greenery erupted on every surface, a wave of blooming flowers radiating outward from the Shiny Rod. Akko spun, looking at Diana as the light started to seep into the journal, Diana’s form getting more and more solid. 

A roar broke the silence of the clearing, everyone whirling as red light crackled in the sky. The red cubes floated in the air, high above the forest as more and more red energy streamed into it. The energy swirled, forming a large missile in the air, full of teeth and a row of eyes on either side. 

It shot into the sky, screaming off as the tablet on Croix’s waist blared in alarm. The witches rushed over, trying to see if Croix knew anything. Akko stood in place, watching as Diana’s form flickered, energy sparking from the journal. 

“Diana?” Akko took a hesitant step forward. “What’s…” 

“The Noir Rod.” Croix said, her head hung low as she gripped her fists tightly, “It pulls emotional energy, or any energy at this point.” She looked up, a pained expression on her face. “It’s probably trying to pull energy from the gate.” Diana flickered, turning to look at Croix. 

“How do we stop it?” Her voice was tinged with panic. This was supposed to be it, this was supposed to be the way she was freed. She couldn’t go back to the library, back to the just sitting on a shelf with nothing to do for -

“Hey,” Akko’s voice shook her out of her thoughts, “we are gonna fix this you know? Together.” Diana took a deep breath, watching as Akko turned towards Croix. “But yes how do we stop this?” 

“Do we blow it up?” Amanda asked, a grin on her face. 

“Yes.” Croix answer was simple, Amanda letting out a cheer.

“If we combine our magic, we can probably reach it in time.” Chariot stepped forward, “Croix,” she stepped over toward the woman, Croix looking down, “I’m sorry.” Croix looked up in surprise, a shocked look on her face. 

“What I did,” Chariot continued, “I pushed you away, pushed you much too far.” Chariot took Croix hand, smiling awkwardly. “I’ll try to be better.” 

“Me too.” Croix looked away, trying to hide the blush on her face. “I…” she stumbled over her words, “I have a lot to make up for.” 

A crackling came from the sky, a red lance of energy streaking past as several red cubes flew in formation behind the missile. “And we can start with that.” She winced. 

“Constanze.” Croix turned to the smaller witch, looking in between her and the brooms. “We can cobble together something, with the scraps here and the brooms you all have.” Constanze nodded, the two immediately going to work as Amanda helped them hold the brooms together. 

Diana watched, nervously tapping her foot on the ground as she watched them assemble the broom. Pieces of machinery were strapped to the broom, holding it in place as they gathered around. Akko gently tucked Diana’s journal into her belt, the still flickering form of Diana shivering as Akko’s hand passed through her. 

“Now,” Chariot clapped her hands, “Just one more small thing.” She turned, nodding at Croix who waved her wand, light washing over the red and green teams as their uniforms changed, morphing into pure white as Akko jumped up and down excitedly. “We will do our part here.” She smiled at Croix, winking conspiratorially. 

Croix smiled, dramatically bowing as a microphone appeared in her hands, a hovering drone behind her turning into a camera as two screens started to hover next to her. Both of them winked on, revealing a broadcast of the missile streaking through the sky. 

Akko stood at the front of the broom, holding the Shiny Rod aloft. “Alright, lets do this.” She lifted the wand, the gems sparkling as it burst into light, swirling around the cobbled together broomstick. It transformed into a large version of the Shiny Valley, 7 shining gems set along the broom. 

The witches climbed aboard, all of them nodding as they took off, Chariot and Croix watching as they sped off after the missile. “Good luck.” Chariot whispered. 

“Are you ready for one last performance?” Croix stood next to her, Chariot taking a breath before nodding. “Well, Chariot.” Croix put one hand on her shoulder, “Let’s get you presentable.” Croix waved her wand, the old Shiny Chariot outfit appearing on her as she handed the microphone over to Chariot with a smile. 

“Ready to rock the world, one more time.” Chariot took the microphone, grinning as tears welled at the corner of her eyes. 

She turned, watching the displays as they showed the young witches closing in on the missile. 

“Everyone!” she said, watching as Croix robots swirled around her. This was her most important performance she thought, pulling her hat across her face dramatically. “We need your help!” 

Akko clutched the Shooting Star, the missile nearly in front of her. Diana’s flickering form was right next to her as the Shooting Star carried them upwards. The tumble from the broom earlier had shaken her, the green light swirling around her as they burst into the blackness of space. The green energy occasionally passed through Diana, her form more and more solid as Akko swore that she could feel the occasional brush of a hand on her back.

The world looked so small from down here, Akko thought, the broom coming to a halt and slowly pushing herself up. The light that had started to spin around her on the journey up swirled around her, Akko facing down the Noir Missile. The Shiny Rod glowed at her hip, reaching down to grab it and pull it out. The Shiny Rod transformed into the Shiny Rod, the bow massive in comparison to the normal Shiny Arc.

“I can do this, I have to do this.” Akko muttered, her arms quivering as she tried to heft the full weight of the Shiny Arc; the energy sputtered, Akko squeezing her eyes shut as she tried to hold on. The bright green light bathed over her, shining around her as the energy swirled around the broom

A hand curled around hers, Akko’s head shooting up. Warmth on her back made her smile slightly, relaxing as she felt a body press up against her. An arm wrapped under her shoulder, supporting her as she looked up into bright blue eyes. 

Diana stood on the Shooting Star, her green and blonde hair ruffled by the energy that the shiny rod was throwing off; her eyes reflecting the stars. A wide smile stretched across her face, Akko looking on, struck by her beauty as she was pulled closer into her grip. 

Akko’s lips curled up into  a wide grin, gripping the bow with Diana as they both pulled the bow up. They gave each other a small nod, turning forward to face the approaching missile, looking into the open maw with spinning teeth ready to descend upon them. They could do this.

“Noctu!” Both of their voices rang out clear and loud amongst the silence of space, pulling the bowstring back. 

“Orfei!” The green light of belief swirled faster around them, flowing into a large arrow that formed in the bow. The wind kicked up, blowing their hair back as the Noir missile roared in their faces. 

“Aude!” Their eyes met for a moment, somehow feeling through the bow that their hearts beat in time. -I believe in your believing heart Akko- Diana thought, a green tendril of energy snaking from her chest, joining the arrow that rested on the Shiny Arc, swirling around it. 

“Fraetor!” Their fingers opened, the arrow loosed from the bow as it streaked into space. 

The arrow sang with energy as it flew towards the Noir Missile, green light flying off of it. Akko and Diana watched as it pierced into the Noir Missile, both of them holding their breath. The missile bend in on itself, cracking in several places as green light shone through. 

For a breathless moment, time seemed to freeze; both girls slowly joined their hands, a gentle warmth against the chill of space. The Noir Missile seemed to turn to them, a snarl on it as the green light died. 

A flash. 

The green light burst from the missile, rending it to pieces; the green light swirling in space as they watched awestruck. The green light briefly formed a spectral tree, floating above earth, hanging in place as the two girls watched the sea of stars in front of them. 

Silence. 

The bright green stars began to swirl, forming a network of lines that hovered in the atmosphere, stretching around the Earth. They shone brightly, flickering for a moment before sinking into the planet, leaving Akko and Diana standing in space. 

Glowing light pulled Akko’s eyes down, the Shiny Rod glowing brightly in her hands. A feeling of loss, gratitude, happy, goodbye came from the Shiny Rod; Akko smiled sadly, turning and lifting the Shiny Rod. The physical form of the rod dissolved, leaving only the seven gems hanging in front of her. 

“Thank you.” Akko whispered, the seven lights blinking before they swirled around Akko, rushing past her to pick up Diana’s journal. The seven lights faded as they rushed into the journal, leaving it suspended in midair. 

Light shone from the journal as it hovered in between the two of them, an invisible wind blowing the pages open as Diana smiled nervously at Akko. For a moment the journal hung in the air, the pages shining with light; suddenly all of the light was sucked back into the book, the pages turning to ash in front of them. 

All that was left was the fragments of the mirror, hanging in space, shining brightly. A small crack, and the mirror broke into dust, sparkling in the light before it faded, taken away by an invisible wind.

A grin pulled the edges of Diana’s face upwards, a joyful laugh escaping her lips as she watched the ashes from the journal float away. Akko stood facing her, stunned as she watched Diana laugh, her heart pounding in her chest. The sound of her laugh rang in her ears, making her face flush a deep red; Diana was finally free! 

She was free and now she was standing here under the starlight, the glowing lights reflected in her eyes. She reached out with her hand, her fingers brushing the back of Diana’s hand. Diana’s laughter stopped, the witch looking at her with shining eyes. 

“You’re here.” Akko breathed out in awe. The journal was gone, and now Diana was really here. The fact bounced around in her head for what seemed to be the thousandth time that minute. 

‘No more journal’ the thought made her grin before she blinked in realization. Her face fell as she stepped forward, letting her head fall onto Diana’s shoulder as she let out a groan of frustration. 

“Akko, Akko what’s wrong.” Diana placed her hands on Akko’s cheeks moving her head so that their eyes met. Akko was pouting, Diana noted as she smiled. 

“I really shouldn’t have used your journal for my potions notes.” Akko grumbled out.

Diana snorted, letting her hands fall onto Akko’s shoulders as she giggled, her forehead softly resting on Akko’s as she felt herself overcome with laughter. 

“It’s not funny.” Akko pouted, “Professor Lukic is gonna fail me.” 

“I’ll help you pass potions Akko.” Diana giggled, pulling Akko into a hug as she felt the same grin make its way on her face again. ‘I’ll always help you.’ She thought, letting out a sigh of contentment as Akko hugged her back, the two silent under the shining stars. 

 

commission from dot-h4ck3r

Chapter Text

The familiar sight of Luna Nova appeared on the horizon as Akko and Diana flew down on the shooting star. Faint green lines of energy still hung in the air, stretching across the bright blue sky. Diana shifted nervously on the broom, shifting back and forth on her feet. It had been years since she had physically been at Luna Nova, even the differences that she had observed from the journal were baffling. 

“You going to be alright?” Akko squeezed her hand, Diana noticing that she hadn’t let go of her hand since they hovered over the stars together, a steady reminder that she was not alone. 

“Probably.” Diana said, a small smile on her face. “It has been a while, but Chariot is on our side, and I believe that I am still enrolled. How are you feeling?” 

Akko laughed, rubbing the back of her neck. “Mostly tired.” Diana giggled, Akko laughing along with her. “It has been a long long day. I haven’t slept in like,” Akko counted on one hand giving up after a few cycles, “A long time.” 

The two laughed, slowly descending toward the the front lawn. The red and green teams dashed across the lawn, waving their hands in the air in excitement. The shooting star hovered a foot in the air, Akko and Diana taking a small step off and onto the ground. The broom shot off a second after they had stepped off, Akko frantically waving goodbye. 

Immediately Akko was tackled by the red and green teams, Diana pulled in by her hand as the six girls quickly pulled her into a hug. She flushed gently trying to reciprocate as the excited questions piled in from each of them. The pile tipped over, all of them tumbling down onto the grass in a large pile. Diana felt herself squished under the pile of bodies, the rumbles of laughter and tangle of limbs making her smile. 

She locked eyes with Akko, currently locked in a headlock by Amanda as her hair was ruffled, Lotte giving her a pat on the cheek from where she was trapped under Sucy and Constanze. A wild grin was on her face, Diana’s lips stretching up towards her ears in a matching expression. 

These were friends, actual friends; something she hadn’t had for so long. A warmth rose in her chest, throwing her arms around Jasminka and Sucy, joining in the laughter. 

“I am glad you girls are excited.” Chariot’s voice said, Akko popping out of the pile of witches as she gave a large grin. Chariot was dressed in her old costume, Croix walking a few steps behind her, an awkward smile on her face. 

“We did it!” Akko triumphantly yelled, Chariot laughing. 

“You did.” Chariot gestured around, “you all did wonderfully out there girls.” Akko preened, pulling herself free from the pile and twirling around. The rest of the girls slowly untangled themselves, an excited mumbling crossing over all of them as Professor Holbrook approached with a few other teachers. 

Professor Finnelan was right behind her, glaring down Croix. Chariot patted her on the back as Croix wilted at the thought of the punishment that she was going to receive. 

“Croix!” Finnelan’s voice carried across the front field. 

“Oh crap.” Croix muttered, Chariot patting her back before stage whispering to her. “I think you can still run, not too late to try to stay ahead.” Croix snorted, slipping her hand into Chariot’s. 

“I think I am done running away.” She said, the tips of Chariot’s ears flushing to match her bright red hair. 

Holbrook lifted her hand, silencing Finnelan for a moment as she approached. “It seems you girls had quite an adventure.” The group fidgeted nervously, “And I think I owe each of you a hearty thank you and congratulations.” The other professors gave a soft round of applause, professor Nelson giving a large thumbs up. “Especially you Atsuko, you persevered in the face of hardship again and again, and should be especially proud.” Akko blinked in surprise, scuffing her feet against the ground as a soft blush of embarrassment crossed her cheeks. 

“And you young  Cavendish.” Diana stiffened as her name was mentioned, Holbrook giving her a reassuring smile. “Would you do me the favor of accompanying me inside, there is much paperwork to fill out, all needed for your continuing enrollment.” Akko flashed Diana a smile, giving her a hand squeeze as she passed. 

The walk up to the entry way of Luna Nova was strange, so different from the last time she had done this, the grounds and the people on it radically different. She paused at the thresh-hold, her mouth quirking into a confused expression. 

She was back, sure, but… was she ready. She looked over her shoulder, Akko giving her two big thumbs up in support. Diana drew in a deep breath and took her first footsteps into Luna Nova in 95 years, a grin stretching across her face. 

Diana shifted on the cushioned chair, the new uniform scratching against her as she tried not to adjust it too much. Sitting across from her on the couch were her two new team-mates; Hannah and Barbara. After Chariot had finally dragged them in from the impromptu part, Diana found herself meeting with Principal Holbrook and conversing about her accommodations. Because she was technically still enrolled, no one considering taking her off of the books even after her mysterious disappearance, she still was technically part of the blue team. 

With some deft restructuring, Holbrook made her space in the Blue team dorm, Akko hurriedly offering a bunch of spare supplies and uniforms that she could use. Chariot and Akko had dropped her off to her new dorm five minutes ago, Diana clutching some spare pajamas that Akko had pushed to her. She opened her mouth to start talking, closing it as no words came to mind. 

These two were ones that she had heard picking on Akko; but also the ones who made an attempt to try to fix things, if even just a bit. Her upbringing had raised her to try to be polite at all times, but the girls in front of her… 

Barbara cleared her throat awkwardly, sticking her hand out as Diana hesitantly took it. Her eyes still darted around the room, taking in the unfamiliar sights. This dorm was much bigger than the red dorm, the high ceilings and separate alcoves for beds so different than the tiny red dorm. She missed the closeness, the packed in bunks and the constant bustle; be it Akko explaining something about Chariot or home, Lotte’s quiet mumblings while she read, or even the cackle of Sucy as she prepared a particularly noxious potion. 

“So,” Barbara said, shifting in her seat to sit up straighter, struggling for words to say. 

Hannah sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose, “Okay let’s just cut through this fumbling.” She grumbled before sighing. “We are sorry about being assholes to your girlfriend.” 

Diana sputtered, her face growing red as she waved her hands in front of her. “She is not my girlfriend.” She choked out, Hannah growing red in embarrassment. 

“That’s what Amanda told me.” She rushed out, Diana floundering for words. 

“Why would you listen to Amanda? When would you even talk to her?” Diana buried her head in her new cloths, cursing Amanda for causing such an awkward first in person meeting. The idea of Akko being her girlfriend stuck in her mind; she would run up to her, give her a hug, maybe press her lips against Diana’s temple. She shook her head in her cloths, her hair coming slightly undone from its ponytail. 

“We didn’t think that she was going to lie.” Barbara cut in, “We were just trying to figure out how to apologize for our past behavior.” Diana peeked out from behind her clothing, drawn out by curiosity. “We were wrong to treat Akko like that, and Amanda, and everyone else on the red and green teams.” 

The clothing barrier lowered, Diana putting her hands back in her lap as Hannah continued. “We, we first kind of thought that with the Samhain, and then with the broom race, and today with the missile.” Hannah swallowed, sighing. “We were raised to think that only the strongest witches from the oldest families were suitable, but a lot of things we learned turned out to be wrong.” 

Barbara patted Hannah on the knee, rubbing her leg comfortingly as she scooted in. Diana looked down, chewing on her lip. Their words reminded her of Daryl, of the long lectures about the proper behavior of young witches of a certain standing. 

“I can understand that.” She said softly, the Hannah and Barbara letting out matching sighs of relief. “I had a long time to consider everything that I was taught, and people who were there to tell me when I was wrong and being dense.” She smiled slightly, “even if they are ungrateful American pricks.” She mumbled to herself. 

“It’s not me you have to apologize to.” Diana spoke back up, both of the girls across from her nodding. “But,” she smiled softly, “Akko is one of the most forgiving people I have ever known. And I think that she and the other’s will understand.” 

“Thanks.” Barbara said, smiling as Hannah nodded. “We want to at least try.” She stood up, giving an awkward wave before fleeing to her alcove. Hannah lingered, chewing on her lip. 

“If you need anything…” she said, faltering as she flashed an awkward smile to Diana. Diana nodded, Hannah escaping with a relieved look on her face. 

Diana flopped back down on the chair, stretching out as she felt her muscles let out tension. Not even a full day back in the world and she already felt worn out. What was she supposed to do for the next few hours? She pulled herself up from the chair, walking over to the bookshelf in the room. She ran her fingers down the spines of the books, searching for one to read. 

She stumbled upon a Nightfall book as she searched for something, impulsively pushing it back into place and resting her hand against the books. Maybe something else, something, not as… 

She spotted a history book, pulling it out with a relieved sigh as she dropped down onto the chair again, curling up as she opened the book on her lap. This should at least last for a small while, while she figured out exactly how to adjust to a human form. 

-There was something that she was missing, something important…-

She waved it off, turning back to her book as she got absorbed in the history. It was a long day she was bound to forget something, she could figure it out tomorrow.  

Akko narrowed her eyes, entering into a staring match with her notebook as she tried to decipher the notes from magic runes earlier that day. The text swam, blinking as she tried to clear the sleep from her eyes. “So if I have it right,” she said, “I have to arrange these in like a spiral and they should be easier to read?” she asked, frantically erasing one of the runes and carefully redrawing it. 

“Diana?” she called, looking up from her notes to see Diana sitting next to her, her head tilted back as she let out a small snorting snore. Akko smiled, trying to hold back a giggle as she went over and poked Diana gently, a small part of her marveling that she could do this now. She could reach out and touch Diana. 

The small push made Diana shrug, trying to throw off the weird feeling that was intruding on her sleep. She tilted to the side, her head landing square on Akko’s shoulder. Akko froze, Diana giving a sigh of contentment as she tried to burrow closer into Akko, causing her cheeks to flare a bright red. 

“Hey,” Akko gently shook Diana, “Diana, Diana you fell asleep.” Diana grumbled, wrapping both her arms against Akko’s and resting her head on her neck, pushing herself in as Akko looked around. The courtyard where they had decided to study was blessedly empty, no one around to see the bright red flush that crept up Akko’s face. 

She tried to focus back on her notes, the swirls of runes blurring together as all she could focus on was the brush of Diana’s hair against her neck and her soft rhythmic breathing as she slept. She found herself humming gently, managing to get back into her notes as she tried to move as little as possible. 

The sun managed to creep across the sky, lengthening the shadows cast across the grass as Akko tried to sit still. The wood from the tree dug into her back as she squirmed, her foot twitching to let out her energy. A sleepy grumble from her side made her toss aside her notes, smiling as Diana sleepily awoke. 

“Hey sleepy.” Diana smiled, a sleepy grin across her face before her eyes shot open. She scooted away, a deep red flush on her face as she started to stammer out apologies. 

“Oh- oh dear,” Diana fiddled with her hands as her ears turned bright red, “I am so sorry I just, I forgot that I had to sleep last night and your voice is really soothing and I just-” she snapped her mouth shut, gesturing around with her hands before snapping them down into her lap. 

A grin stretched on Akko’s face, inwardly squealing about how cute Diana was being. -She thinks my voice is soothing!- She celebrated in her mind. 

“Did you not sleep yesterday?” Akko said with concern, scooting closer to Diana. 

“I, well, I somewhat forgot.” Diana said, letting out a small laugh. “I had no need for sleep within the journal, and when I was in my new room yesterday I just found myself reading a book and thinking.” She ran her fingers through the grass, smiling at the strange texture against her skin. 

“There is so much here to learn and see.” She muttered, plucking a blade of grass and rubbing it between her fingers. “I found myself reading through some of my new school books instead.” She pulled out her wand, the older design so different from from the new telescoping wands. The solid wood ended in a foggy crystal tip, the warping of the wood making it look like several interlocking strands of wood.

“Fiheg.” She waved her wand, green light radiating from the tip. Grass pulled itself from the ground, hovering in mid air before weaving together to form a small chain. Diana gave a flick of her wand, the chain flying through the air to wrap around Akko’s wrist, closing to form a braided bracelet. 

Touching the gift Akko smiled, looking up to see the content look on Diana’s face. “It has been so long since I got to do magic just for the sake of magic.”  Akko watched as Diana turned the wand over in her hands with a smile. “Ever since I got my wand I loved practicing magic. My mother used to help me practice healing spells when she was wither her patients, and Anna would let me sneak in practicing magic in the kitchens.” 

She laughed, Akko feeling her gut flip in her chest. “I would give her flowers in exchange for pastries, and she would count them out to the whole kitchen staff.” Diana felt a tear squeeze out of the corner of her eye, reaching up to wipe it away as she stared at the tear with a sad smile. 

“It has been so long since I could think about the world outside of the book. I almost thought that I would never be able to cast magic again, eat or drink or even sleep in this world again.” She looked down, the corners of smile barely turning up. 

“Or steal pastries from the kitchens again?” Akko nudged Diana gently with her shoulder, drawing a laugh out of her. 

“Or ask for pastries from the kitchen again.” Diana bumped her back, the two giggling slightly before falling into a comfortable silence. 

The wind ruffled the tops of the trees, the soft rustling of the leaves filling the courtyard. Diana plucked a few blades of grass, Akko staring at her hand. She was so close, actually here in the world and sitting not even two feet from her. She inched her hand over, placing it on top of Diana’s, causing her to freeze up and look over at Akko. 

“You must miss them.” Akko said, interlocking their fingers as her hand covered Diana’s, noting to herself that her hands could completely envelope Diana’s. 

“More than the world.” Diana said, staring up at the stars. “I had a long time in the journal, and I thought that with that, and the fact that my mother died before I was cursed, maybe I had been able to move on.” She gave a rueful chuckle, “but being here, being able to actually be here instead of sitting on a musty shelf, talking with the blue team earlier, it all reminded me of them. It makes it more real that I never…” 

“I’m sorry.” Akko said, pulling Diana into a hug, closing her eyes as she felt Diana grip onto her shirt. “I don’t know how that would feel, but I know how it can feel sometimes to be alone.” Akko looked up at the stars, “I miss my parents most days, and if it wasn’t for you and my friends then I think I might have gone home a long time ago.” Diana looked up at her, her expression confused as she searched for something on Akko’s face. 

“I am glad you chose to stay.” Diana said softly, Akko enraptured by her words, “Without you, none of this would have happened. Not me being free, not the world being saved, nothing.” She sat up, groaning at the stiffness of her muscles, not used to the feeling. 

“I don’t care how other people think, to me, you are already the greatest witch there ever was.” Her eyes softened, Akko’s heart racing in her chest. “You are already my hero.” 

Akko’s face turned bright red as she buried her face in her hands, mumbling in Japanese as she tried to regain composure. Diana smiled, arching her back and rolling her shoulders as she winced at the soreness. She looked up, Akko already standing, her head turned to the side and a hand outstretched to help Diana up. 

“I know it’s not the same,” she said, the setting sun framing her face, “But we can go sneak into the kitchens after dinner and try to steal some pastries. I am sure that Jerry won’t mind.” Diana snorted, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. 

“I never stole them,” she said, mock affronted, “I always paid for them.”

“In flowers.” 

“I was six Akko.”

“An adorable six year old.” Akko shot back, the grin only stretching larger on her face. “Okay so we can go find some flowers and sneak into the kitchen to pay for some pastries. Is that more accurate oh virtuous one?” She bowed mockingly, her hand still outstretched. 

The invitation seemed to call to her, a soft reminder to live; she was free, she was here with Akko, and the remains of her Aunt’s voice in the back of her mind could stay well out thank you very much. She reached out, hesitant, slow, pausing right before grabbing Akko’s hand.

“Just this once.” She grinned, watching as Akko’s eyes lit up in joy. She was pulled to her feet, Akko keeping hold of her hand as she dragged her towards the kitchens. Diana chucked to herself, -Oh Akko,- she thought, a wild grin and blush on her face, -I will always take your hand, no matter where it leads.-