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Slice. Heal. Life.

Repeat.

Slice. Heal. Life. “If you won’t dissect a dead frog, then you’ll dissect a live one.” Slice. Deeper, carving not only the fragile lining of her soul, but all that lies within. Healing hands buzz with energy, purpose, need. She needs to save it. She has to. It calls out to her, over and over, with words that she doesn’t know, but inherently understanding.

Life.

Misty sighs at the pulse of a heartbeat, her magic satiated. It’s task is done, balance restored. Yet the balance in this cold classroom wobbles and shakes uneasily, as if turbulence is the only state to exist in.

A flash of movement, thunderous footsteps.

Words, accusing things that sit like tiny daggers. Then, the scalpel in in her shaking fingers, pushed toward the spongy, white abdomen. No, no, no. “If you won’t dissect a dead frog, then you’ll dissect a live one.” No. It chimes and chorus in her head, reverberates the hollow passages of her bones, and falls from her lips like raindrops from the darkest of skies.

No. Please, no.

The frog twitches, alive; so alive, and frightened and inundated with adrenaline. She can feel that, her magic drawn to the very emotions of the simple soul. Slice. The pressure added isn’t her. The hand that holds the scalpel is. And the innocent creature’s pain scourges right through Misty as though she is the one split open and innards oozing out.

A crimson flash of blood, vacant eyes, the last tremble of life clinging on to its organs. Then, nothing.

She scrambles to do what she does best. To heal, to save. To grab lost souls from the very line where the dark waters of death teeter on the many decaying sands of life. She yanks them back, into the safety of the beach.

But the waves of the waters never stop, never retreat. And so she continues her losing battle.

Slice. Heal. Life.

She blinks, brain fuzzy. Body worn as though she’s just woken from a deep sleep, but at the same time has yearns for me. Her shoulder hunch, back arched. Buttocks struggle on a chair that isn’t sized for her, sat in a classroom that feels wrong. It is. All of this is wrong. It’s the same. Stuck. A record player scratching itself as it circles and circles until someone pulls the plug.

Misty’s throat aches with her screams.

They ought to shatter the windows, shake the walls of the room. They barely bat an eyelid. Fear has opened her up – it sits inside, coating her body in its wicked ways. She cries and cries, and thinks maybe she’s been here an eternity. Maybe this is it. A fate crueller than having to slowly fade away in that coffin.

Brought back to life once more, the frog shows no gratefulness, no zeal to be gifted another chance. She’s almost bitter, for a second. Only to realise that, like her, it probably knows its own destiny.

That the scalpel with return in its certainty, and the hands that heals it is also the hand that harms it. She wouldn’t thank her either.

Where there is death, she has to help. She has to. What else would she do?

And so, she does help. Over and over, until her help hurts. “Please don’t make me kill a living thing.” She begs, cries. This is wrong, the world tinged with the rot of death, an acrid smell of decay that hangs in the cold air. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This time, as she maims yet again, there is a noise. An existence beyond this frog and students and teacher. There is a voice, a warmth. Misty almost breaks from her cycle, blinking profusely, but the pull is just so strong.

Save the frog.

She does. Her magic fulfils its most simple desires. “Freak. Mr Krinley, she did it again.” Misty is already shaking before the teacher arrives, the lead laden weight of the scalpel between quivering fingers.

As she waits for the impatient dribble of her teacher, she is denied it. His mouth moves, attempts to form syllables. It lacks any volume, any words. Misty lifts her head, confused. Unsure. She sucks in a breath through tears and all but whimpers out her befuddlement. The frog clatters about the tray, making for a hasty exit.

Misty gapes, eyes shining and reflecting the obnoxious luminescence of the school lighting.

It isn’t an angry growl of a man that she hears, but softness. Familiarity. Sanctuary. The room around her becomes dimmer, the students paling in the background. She does catch sight of the frog, half way across the room. In a mighty hop, it scurries some more.

She grows weak, body numb. Her lungs tighten and shrink, like she’s not breathing. Like she’s stuck feet under water and one gasp will brim her insides with salty and bitter water. She holds on, keeping that air confines within until it stings and bites at her lungs.

Gray gives way to dark. But she’s still warm, skin on fire with the touch of something she can’t quite place. And there are words echoing around her head that are foreign, strange. Right. They glow, a guiding star that she’s inclined to follow.

The more her trepid toes do so, the more air is dragged from her body.

Then, with a sudden burst of energy rejuvenated into muscles, her body lurches upwards and she gasps for air like she’ll never breathe again. Misty trembles where she sits, enveloped in something. By someone. She inhales deeply and presses tight teeth together as the world starts to make sense again. Decadent perfume hits her right in the face.

Cordelia.

That is confirmed as her unresisting body is yanked right into the chest of said woman for the tightest of embraces. “Misty, oh thank god.” She is held with such enthusiasm that she struggles for oxygen again. “You’re safe, you’re okay.” A hand combs through her hair and, despite the insecurity that possesses her, she relaxes into the feel of it.

She dare not close her eyes, ‘cause when she does she sees classrooms and scalpels, and blood on her hands. So, the bloodshot and terrified blue eyes roam around the room. Just where she’d lay and chanted a spell. How long ago? The others stare back, intrigued, entertained. Misty curses their ability to stay calm, especially as those flittering eyes land on the hourglass.

The last few drops of sand as succumbing to gravity.

Misty isn’t stupid; she knows what that means. Choking on her own whisper, she does manage to get it out. “I almost died.”

“I know.” Madison agrees, a smug tilt of her head. “A few more seconds and you’d have been toast, swampy.” No care is found in her words, no compassion. It doesn’t even seem to sit in the other girl’s gazes, and Misty shivers from an altogether more trying thought.

Did they want her to die? Do they all want to be a Supreme so bad?

Questions aren’t asked. Mainly ‘cause she’s still shaky from. . .whatever that was. She does, however, turn on the spot to where the hug has loosened, leaving Cordelia hovering over her protectively. She continues to stroke her hair tenderly, and there are stains of tears along her cheeks. Misty leans closer to her. After all, she may be the only sane person in this damn house.

“Well, looks like you all survived Descensum.” Myrtle stands, commanding the room in the evening glare of the sun, and then offers a potent glass toward Misty. “Some of us, by the skin of our teeth.” Misty eyes the hourglass once more, letting the severity of what she’s got herself into settled like bad food on her stomach. “Let us have a quick recess and then begin our next test.”

She’s calm, so calm. As if Misty didn’t just die! She needs more than a recess – she needs to hurry back to her swamp where the mud will ease the tension from her very ragged muscles.

“Can’t we just get on with it?” Queenie begins in eagerness.

The form above Misty continues in insistence. “Misty needs a break.”

“It isnt our fault you had to help her get back from Hell.”

“I – ” she winces, completely oblivious to the wide eyed stare from the Cajun. “I did not help her. I guided. That is all. There are no rules against that.”

“Ten minutes.” Myrtle decides, little emotion on her face. If she’s going for a poker face, she’s awful good at it. Misty has always struggled to keep emotion and expression two separate entities. Even now, she can’t fight tears for much longer as it all settles in. At the back of her mind, there is a tiny voice telling her that she doesn’t want this.

Cordelia sighs. “A little longer, maybe?”

“Time is of the essence, my dear. We must find our Supreme.”

The word makes Misty since, still haunted by the death she’d caused, even in a fictitious place. It had felt real, and that makes it real enough. Only she appears affected. The other girls are at ease, continuing to jab and remark happily over the other’s abilities over their break.

Misty still hasn’t moved, and neither has Cordelia.

Those arms are a safety net that she doesn’t want to crawl out of. Soon enough, Cordelia speaks directly to her. “Are you okay?”

She gulps, eternally glad that the woman can’t see how not okay she is. “I’m fine.” The quiver in words might give it away.

“I though I’d lost you for a second.” Not we, but I. An odd choice, Misty thinks, but she doesn’t dwell.

“Yeah, it was. . .I don’t ever wanna go there again.”

Cordelia tilts her head, curious, but doesn’t probe. Instead, she helps the both onto their feet and guides Misty where she downs an entire flute of champagne like a shot. It warms her throat on the descent. It does not help calm her.

“Thank you.” She says, after another.

Sucking in a breath, Cordelia offers a questioning smile. “For what?”

For once, Misty feels all too knowing. She leans in closer, able to feel Cordelia’s heartbeat as her hand sits along her bare wrist. “For helpin’ me.” I almost died.

She nods then, neither confirming or denying.

“Do me a favor, Misty.”

“Yeah?”

A wryness surfaces about her. “Pass the seven wonders. It’s got to be you.”

But all the faith frightens her, the Supremacy terrifies her. And Misty finds herself wondering why she’d even wanted to do this in the first place. Then, she feels it. The souls in need, desperate to be saved from something. Not death, but perhaps something just as foreboding. And her magic tingles in earnest.

She nods, even if Cordelia can’t see it.

“Okay.”

These people need help. That’s what she does, right? Helps people, creatures; that's why God gave her this magic.

As she glances at the blonde in the corner of her eye, she finds herself wanting to do it for her, too.

Chapter Text

Time is weird, isn’t it? Misty remembers being young, how the hours of summer stretched beyond comprehension, how a minute could manifest as an hour under just the right conditions.

And waiting, always waiting, seemed so torturous, so long. As though time tap danced back and forth just in a pretence that it was moving.

Yes, how the time had stalled then. Frozen, tied down with woven roots and begrudged to continue. How she begs for that to happen now. She makes eyes at the grandfather clock; she conveys her stress in that very expression. Still, it doesn’t listen. Maybe it moves even faster. Tick tock. Tick tock. Her hands ache with buzzing, a twitch that yearns to rip the hands from the clock face in a frustrated show of anger that shocks even herself.

Misty blinks, then steadies her nerves with a long breath. That breath seems to last longer than the whole ten minute wait.

As Myrtle regroups them, Misty has realised that time waits for no one. Especially her.

Cordelia sits to her side, at least. That, in itself, offers a calming aura, an effect like lavender that sweeps through her blood in a brigade of support. She peeks at Cordelia through half hooded eyes. The woman sits erect, pensive, with two hands crossed over her cane ever so neatly. Her sun glasses are back on now, and they skew Misty’s view of her entire expression.

Still, her intuitive gut tells her that there is conflict beneath those black lenses. She’s quiet, contemplative. Just as nervous as the Cajun herself.

She opens her mouth to speak, to utter dangerous words. Ones of second thoughts and backtracks. Oh, what has she gotten herself into?

Myrtle cuts her to the chase. “As it stands, all four of you are still in the running for the Supreme. With four of the wonders yet to perform.”

“Cut to the picture, granny. I’m aging here.”

A withering look sent Madison’s way has no effect on her demeanor. In fact, she seems to brighten under its intense glare.

Misty can see the simultaneous eye roll of both Zoe and Queenie, and feels like she ought to give her own. As it is, she’s finding that she fights this gnawing tug in her gut – almost like something is digging to make its way out.

“Let’s get on with it.” Queenie agrees, but in a far more diplomatic way. “Then we’re one step closer to finding the new Supreme.”

“The next task before our candidates is transmutation.” Myrtle offers simply, sans an explanation. They don’t need one. She’s seen the others honing their magic, working and reading to the point of exhaustion. The wonders are carved into the crevices of their brains, but Misty finds herself wanting to shake them out.

She blinks over as Zoe disappears from the couch and jumps up right behind Madison. “Tag.” She whispers, just the hint of smug. “You’re it.”

If there is any momentary shock, Madison recovers from it, and quickly follows suit. She appears right before Queenie. “Now you’re it.” Her shoulder is tapped, and Madison already rushing away before she can be retagged.

Misty watches, wide eyed, only to startle as Queenie puffs into existence behind her. In turn, the way she flinches has Cordelia echoing the movement in her own muscles. Despite the heavy air that has hung down on them since Descensum, Queenie suddenly grins and pokes a finger into her side. “You’re it, swamp girl.”

There’s a senseless teasing about her words, a jibe to it maybe. Either way, it stirs something in Misty. A competitiveness that has her focusing her own magic and succumbing to the game. The first person she spots is Madison, not too far away by the other couch. And so, with a dizzying burst of magic, she transmutates and suddenly stands right before her. Taller, smirking. Fingers prod the first part of Madison she can see and then she’s gone again.

For a second, it’s easy to get caught up in it all.

This isn't a test; this is just tag.

And she knows how to do that, how to be carefree and young, and let laughter blossom through her belly. It does, each time another target is found, changed. They cease to be four competing women, instead they’re just girls. Smiles on their faces, even if Cordelia is suddenly on the stoop of her house and adopting this nervous twist of her features.

Misty slows in her movement, just briefly, to regard it. “Be careful, girls.” The headmistress says. Well, reprimands.

“Jeez, just let us actually have fun for once.” Madison quips as she appears from the trees with gusto. Maybe it’s the first time that Misty actually agrees with the starlet. Ever since she got here there’s been fear and death, and violence. She wants nice, just for a second.

Just like it felt as Stevie sang right to her soul with her wonderful voice.

“This is not a game.” Myrtle interjects upon seeing Queenie stumble back into reality. The girl catches her footing quickly, still grinning nonetheless.

Misty peers between the two older women, then at the younger witches. She feels stuck between them, floating in a limbo, and then the child within her puts forward an altogether too tempting argument. That tag is downright fun.

She giggles as Zoe tags her again, squeezing at her sides in a way that jolts right there her body. Above, the sun watches the merriment with a smile, glowing brighter on just their yard it seems. The leaves and grasses, and veranda all sit bathed in the gold that forces her to squint her eyes with concentration. But the very appearance of such a thing seems to bolster her magic, to have it singing about her.

She runs, and transmutates, and laughs.

Maybe this all won’t be so bad. Maybe this Coven is okay. Fun, even.

And Misty thinks that right up until she finds herself staring wide eyed at Zoe’s limp body hanging from the spiked fencing above.

There’s a rush of people, a flurry of movement.

Zoe’s pale and fading body sits sprawled on a slab in the greenhouse, where chills and shivers spin around at Misty’s feet. She ignores kyle’s cries beside her, the murmur between the other girls. For her head pounds and begs to do what it does best.

Save her.

Fresh death has always smelled different, so much more subtle. Like it needs a few weeks to mature and strengthen. Misty can still smell it, the earthy sweetness of a body yearning for its soul back.

She lurches forward through no control of her own, hands poised and sure and –

“No.” Myrtle puts an end to that all too sternly.

Misty pulls back, confused. “But I – I can bring her back.” Her nose scrunches in that uncertainty, the veins behind her eyes pulsing until her head aches.

Cordelia, at least, steps in with an explanation. “We know you can, Misty. But let the others try first, please.” She is awfully good at keeping the emotion just at bay from her words, even if she is clearly bothered by the unfolding events.

She’s about to ask why, what does it matter? And besides, this is what she’s meant to do, what she’s good at; the very thing that brings a calm over her body like nothing else can. “Oh.” She blinks. “The seven wonders. . .”

She’d entirely forgotten in the rushing, rightly so. Saving Zoe is far more important than some stupid test.

A knowledge that makes it that much harder to take a step back and glance toward Queenie and Madison. Her hands fall limply by her side, a languid sight with no purpose. She bows her head away from prying eyes for as long as she dares, then finds herself peering up at Cordelia instead. Misty isn’t sure why. She does just, drawn by invisible forces.

Cordelia, in contrast, tilts her head toward her competitors.

In the face of death, Madison merely looks bored. Queenie, intimidated. She clenches and unclenches her fists, shaking them out with sudden nerves as she offers her own attempt first. “Okay, I’ll go.”

She stares down at Zoe, breaths growing deeper with every passing second. And the rest of the room watches, enrapt, intrigued, or just plain desperate for the girl to be brought back this side of life.

Grasping a cheek in either hand, Queenie bends down ever so slightly so she can begin the task at hand. There is no hesitation, no moment to pause and think. She just gets on with it, leaning so her dark lips are almost touching the faint rose pink of Zoe’s. There, she closes her eyes. If Misty looks closer, she can maybe see a swirl of movement around her; whether that be her magic or aura, she doesn’t know.

The longer she’s been here, the more she’s beginning to think she doesn’t know an awful lot of this world.

There’s one thing that becomes clearer as the tense moments pass. No matter how many pushes of soft breath Queenie offers toward Zoe, none of them take. Her body remains motionless, pale, dead. The rot around her grows, maybe a sight only Misty can decipher.

She hasn’t done it. She can't do it. 

Upon her table, Zoe doesn’t burst back into life, and Queenie isn’t the Supreme. Misty’s gut somersaults some more, especially upon witnessing the dejected way that the girl draws back. She’s disappointed, sure, but it is swallowed rather easily. Taken with pride. Misty can respect that. Offering an apologetic smile, she reaches out and is smoothing a hand over Queenie’s upper arm in a slow motion.

“Queenie has failed vitalis vitalum. And therefore, she is not the next Supreme.”

Madison scoffs. “Well, no shit. Did anyone ever think she was?”

It works in enraging the voodoo witch, goading her closer and closer toward what will surely be some form of violence. Myrtle works to put it a halt. “Honestly girls, must we be so abhorrent to one another?”

But Misty thinks of Madison’s actions, of what she did to her, and vengeance sure would be a sweet sight. Even if she isn’t one to give the striking blow.

“Madison.” Cordelia's voice is cold, like a slab of ice knocking into the group. She stands taller, stoic, and Misty finds herself mesmerised again. That is shook away in favor of glancing back down at Zoe with a half frown.

“Yes, Cordy?”

She presses her lips into a tight line. “It is your turn.”

“Like I’d waste my magic bringing her back,” comes her uncaring scoff. With as much disdain as she can manage, her hands are thrown hastily across her chest. “Let swampy do the dirty work.”

“Are you saying that you forfeit this test?” Myrtle says, beady eyes narrowing through the thick rimmed glasses.

“I can do it.” She grumbles. “Just not on her.”

There’s a general air of surprise around the room, buzzing like static that threatens to shock them all. Misty is all kinds of bewildered. Why? Why wouldn’t Madison want to save Zoe? They were friends, right? But then again, the blonde’s world only seems to revolve around her own successes and stamping on everyone else’s.

In her anger, Misty moves forward again. “Here, just lemme – ”

That offer is halted by Cordelia’s cane flying up to put a barrier between her and Zoe. Aghast, she turns with mouth gaping over toward the girl. “You heard her, she won’t do it!” Eyes fall upon the deceased girl, and she can practically hear her soul calling out to be reunited with its vessel.

“Won’t,” Cordelia nods in all that sternness, before she too pushes. “Or can’t.”

“I can!”

“Then, by all means, show us.” Myrtle gestures toward the body with a wrinkled hand.

It is willingly ignored by Madison, who is huffing and rolling dark eyes, and altogether the sign of a spoiled brat. Misty grits her teeth at the selfishness, where Queenie speaks all their thoughts. “Are you serious? If you can do it, then bring her back! Don’t be such a bitch.”

“That’s no way to talk to someone who’s going to be your Supreme.”

For a moment as short as a shooting star, Misty suddenly wishes she could pass this whole thing just to see the look on Madison’s face when she loses.

“We are waiting.”

All the focus remains on her; maybe that’s what she wants. Misty’s skin would crawl under such scrutiny, but Madison revels in it. She thinks, pausing with a wicked pile of thoughts stacking up behind her gaze. Zoe is appraised, her lifeless body peered at with a noticeable lack of emotion. Tension builds around them, no more so from Kyle who just clearly yearns for the return of his girlfriend.

But Madison isn’t here to offer that. That’s not in her nature, apparently.

She does perform vitalis vitulum, however; only for it to be done on a common housefly that is unlucky enough to be drifting past in that very moment.

Just as quickly as she’s flattened it between her manicured hands, she opens them again and presents a flustered but very much alive insect. “See?” Madison announces smugly. “Easy.”

“You expect to lead us when you won’t even protect the witches in the Coven?” Cordelia asks following murmurs from Myrtle to her side. She’s far from happy, if the growing veins in her forehead are anything to go by.

“It’s my Coven and I’ll do what I want with it.” She decides, flicking the fly away a great distance across the greenhouse. Misty watches its trajectory, eyes widening at the lack of concern for the small creature.

Even more important matters come to weigh on her shoulders. Before an argument can escalate, she eagerly steps into the spot. “Is it my turn now?” Strained is the only way to really describe her voice, but she feels like a caged bird denied a chance to fly. And now, she's ready to spread those wings.

Cordelia sighs, almost softly, then nods. Any altercations with Madison are put aside with haste. Misty guesses that everyone is just as keen to finish these tests as each other.

Her main concern is dispelling this growing magic from her body. With itchy palms, she presses hands to Zoe’s cooling skin just as Queenie had. The skin holds echoes of life, memories, but there is nothing else. Not yet. Eyes closing in concentration, Misty does what she does best. She loses herself in the intuitive feelings that her body succumbs to; like the rest of the world disappears around her. In that switch, her mind warps – it twists in on itself. Against the black of her eyelids, she sees that frog from her Hell, she sees rebirth and death, and the scalpel in her own hand.

Gasping, Misty throws eyes open desperately to find it is just Zoe beneath her touch. “Is everything okay?” Cordelia begins, on the edge of concern.

“Yeah, I- uh, yeah, it’s fine. . .”

That’s as much explanation as she gives, before pushing herself back to her mission. Come on, you can do this.

With her mouth mere inches away from Zoe's, she summons lungs full of air and then gently pushes them toward the girl with shallow movements. This continues, a push and a pull just as calming as the waves. It’s easy, simple. She’s done this more times than she can count, since before she could even really remember. Except never before has her skin burned like this, like a thousand needles prick the surface relentlessly.

It throws her, but not enough to knock her concentration. And then she feels it; her. Misty sucks in this time, sharply so. As she does, drawing back with an invisible lull, Zoe bursts back into life.

She smiles, widely so. Arms curl around the confused girl, pulling her in for a firm hug that is soon usurped by a grateful Kyle.

When she turns, she finds Myrtle smiling back at her. “You passed this test.” Said smile becomes a smirk. “Unsurprisingly.”

Misty bows her head shyly under the compliment, then peers over to where Zoe and Kyle reunite. Relief sits along her chest at the sight.

“So, it’s just between me and swampy now?”

She snaps her head back toward Madison so quickly that the plants seem to get whiplash.

This is responded to with a rather reluctant, “yes.”

“Wait? Madison still gets to continue after the shit she just pulled?” Queenie announces in bet horror, “She wouldn’t even bring Zoe back!”

“Oh, come on. We all knew Misty was gonna do it anyway.”

Queenie glares. “That isn’t the point.”

“Look, I don’t care what you think – ”

“You should.” Misty growls in her frustration.

Madison blatantly ignores that interruption. “But the truth is that I did your dumb test. And that means I get to do the next one. Those are you rules which you all seem so Hellbent on keeping to. So, can we just get on with the next damn test? This shit is all so boring.”

Misty finds those words settling over her with distaste, melting against her skin in an unpleasant way. Now, she’s met her fair share of horrid people, but Madison is really taking the cake here.

She’s selfish and wicked and –

“We will have another recess.” Myrtle announces, her hand coming to hold onto Cordelia’s forearm as though silently conveying some message. “Today has been rather trying. A break won’t go amiss.”

Whether Madison is happy with that or not, she doesn’t get the opportunity to protest the decision. Not when Cordelia and Myrtle scurry off to another room, looking all too serious and concerned, and almost enough to have Misty chasing after them.

She doesn’t, feet welded to the ground as though her boots are laden with lead.

Just as she thinks maybe some silence would be good, to gather her thoughts over everything and anything, the others split into more arguments.

Zoe against Madison then Madison against Kyle, and Queenie throws her own piece in every few minutes for good measure.

She winces at the sight, at the animosity that is surely poisoning the plants and life that fills the room. Such a noxious sight that has her guts now knotting fully out of shape and flipped upside down. The nausea she feels must sit on her face.

Not that anyone is looking. Not that anyone cares.

They all sit absorbed in their own arguments, drama that she doesn’t fully comprehend. Misty spectates with her heart caught in her throat. Is this really what she wants to be in charge of?

These girls, only a few years her junior and yet a whole realm of difference between them.

Her heart sinks as she realises the only other choice is Madison. And that just. . .it won’t. . .surely she can do a better job than her, right?

Chapter Text

She has downed herself another glass of whatever bubbling alcohol Kyle has to offer by the time she hears the thudding of Cordelia's cane against any unfortunate items it collides with.

The headmistress returns, held on the arm on Myrtle. Both their faces are a matching shade of grave. Misty swallows, though the bubbles fight back and attempt to travel the length of her throat again. At the sign of the two women, the room falls into silence once more.

Not that Misty herself had been doing much talking. Her brain aches, it thuds like never before, and she reaches the back of her hand to press miserably against it.

“It appears we have but two candidates left.” As Myrtle speaks, Misty can spot the irritation evident in Cordelia’s features. What had they been speaking so secretly about? Why does tension seep from her very pores like condensation on a hot day?

She blinks, puzzled and queasy, and reluctant to drag attention from the woman. Only, Myrtle demands it. The situation does.

“By the end of the eve, we will know who our new Supreme is.”

Silence swims around them, a rapt audience. It doesn’t feel real, palpable. Misty clutches onto her own forehead and expects her fingers to move right through it. When she feels solid skin underneath, even if it wriggles in nerves, she is still surprised.

Myrtle, or anyone else, appears none the wiser to her discomfort. “Misty. Madison. There are two wonders left. We will first start with pyrokinesis.”

She beckons them upwards with a bony finger, and the four girls follow, Kyle in tow. They are led from one expansive room to another, guided forward toward an empty table.

Madison heads the pack, a commanding energy about her as she basically stands at Cordelia’s heels. “Will you hurry up? Some of us have got wonders to perform.”

“Must you speak with such contempt?” Myrtle queries.

She comes to a halt, flouncing out her hair. “Whatever lady. I just wanna become Supreme and then show you all what real powers are.” A scoff follows when she turns, glaring Misty’s way. “God, are you gonna regret hitting me.”

Stood with the rear, her slow trailing of the group, too, ends. Misty peers right back, chin held high. “Don’t count on it.” She scowls.

Another voice pipes up. Deep, raspy. Serious. “Let’s start, girls.” Cordelia says, seemingly itching to get this whole ordeal over with. That can be understood; the trying days are perhaps reflected in all the girls, no more than the injured Cordelia. Misty is staring again, squinting perhaps to spy a glimpse of her eyes beneath those reflective glasses. But she can’t, and she averts her attention elsewhere, even if the prickling embers of guilt spark in her tummy. She did that to find you. So that you can be the Supreme.

Pressure returns, insurmountable. Like an eternal lake that she’s stuck at the bottom of.

Movement in her peripherals, and when Misty’s pupils focus back into the room, she sees Zoe helping Myrtle carry candlesticks to the table. The same ones that they had used right at the beginning of the tests what seems like so long ago.

By now, sunset has almost occurred. Where there was color bouncing about the sky, there is an impending darkness of a still night. The large windows encase it so well, so clearly, and she steps closer to the glass in an absent train of thought. But then there is light from inside, a flicker of flame that distorts the pretty image. It dances, pirouettes, highlighting her own reflection. There, Misty sees her pale features, envying the color of the moon. Upon that light skin, there is a slight frown. Barely noticeable, but chronic in nature. She sees it; she gives it far too much attention. As such, it deepens under the scrutiny.

“Misty.”

Her name, sharply spoken, has her pulled from observation and unceremoniously dropped right back in the center of their reality.

Disappointment lingers in the air from all but one of the company. “Your turn.” Madison grins, gesturing oh so proudly to the beaming flames upon the candles. “If you can do it, that it.”

“I can do it.” The growl is assured, even if Misty doesn’t quite necessarily feel that.

Once the flames are blown out, she cringes at the acrid smell left in the air – the scent of a finite end, death, even if it is merely but a simple flame’s demise. Death is all forms seems to irk her, and this is no different.

She’s aware of far too many eyes on her, that returning burst of pressure. Misty isn’t equipped for that; she doesn’t think it’s in her blood to handle it all that well.

Even so, she summons tunnel vision, all but glaring forward at the blackened wick that pokes from soft wax. Harder to summon is the same flame that Madison so easily drew. Try as she might, flames trigger bad memories, heat, pain. Fire had once crackled and burned her skin wickedly, showing no signs of relenting. It had come so quickly, born from a hatred that she doesn’t understand. And fire, while a form of nature, has always frightened her more than she cares to admit.

Maybe that’s why her magic struggles, swimming up river against stronger tides than she’s used to. She’d once been condemned for her magic with a fiery death, and now it seems reluctant to relive even a glimpse of it.

Gritting her teeth, she narrows eyes further to two beady dots of black.

The wick remains untouched, sagging slightly to the left, and Misty isn’t sure if she ought to be disappointed or relieved. If she can’t do this. . .then she isn’t some Supreme.. Her shoulders slump, the heat of magic fizzling to well, nothing. Slow breaths draw from her lips, shaking, audible.

As are Cordelia’s thoughts. “Did she do it?” The woman asks, hope sitting gingerly in her words.

“No.” Queenie announces, a little sullen. Maybe that’s something to do with the far too smug expression that Madison is adopting. About the room, a tangible disappointment pushes through, a tense silence, and Misty’s heart clenches at the idea that maybe they had all been counting on her to do this. . .

“Well, well, well, looks like you all have some groveling to do, huh?” Madison stands taller, growing in delusion. “I don’t even know why we bothered with this shit in the first place. We all know that I’m the most powerful witch in this fucking house.” Bursting through the middle of the group, and inadvertently almost knocking Cordelia on her feet, she moves into the most central position. “And you bet that you’re gonna see some real magic now.”

“I wouldn’t be so keen to jump to conclusions,” Myrtle begins, “you are yet to pass divination.”

“That’s right. You might not be the Supreme.”

Madison scoffs at Cordelia, laughing at their statements. “Well, who else is it gonna be, dummy?”

“Don’t talk to her like that.” Misty jumps in without a single thought, fists tightening into angry balls. Her magic rises, begging to be released in its annoyance. She denies it that; why would she waste it on such a brat?

Folding her arms neatly across her small chest, Madison huffs out a sneer. “And what, you’re gonna stop me?”

“You ain’t s’posed to be so rude to people.” She has a swirling confusion inside, emotions that she doesn’t quite understand. One thing she can decode is that Madison just isn’t a nice person. In fact, she’s a pretty horrid one. “Didn’t your parents raise you right?”

“Jesus fucking Christ, have you heard yourself?”

Misty shakes her head, briefly peering around the others who seem to be just as horrified at the idea that this could be their new Supreme.

But Misty isn’t one to back down, not when the girl enrages her so, not when she says rude things to Cordelia, who has been nothing but sweet and accommodating, and caring. “You’re just a bitch.”

“Oh, oh no.” She begins in a sarcastic quip. “You really hurt my feelings there, Swampy.”

At the crudely spoken nickname, Misty’s nostrils flare. Her head lifts higher. With it, darkened eyes find the starlet. Maybe they’ll be headed for round two of their fight sooner than she thought, seeing as her hands twitch with such desires. “I told you – ”

Madison’s eyes flash wickedly. “You don’t tell me anything, I’m the Supreme.”

Not yet!

She makes an indignant noise. “Soon enough.” Flouncing over to Myrtle, she has hurry deeply laced in her tone. “Come on, let’s get this fucking thing over with.” She bangs at the table impatiently.

Myrtle hides all and any feelings well behind a passive expression, which is more than can be said for Misty. She rubs thumb and index fingers together with excess energy, the same vibrations that burn her hands.

The sensation grows as Madison speaks. “Hurry up!” A disgruntled eye roll follows in a far from charming display.

“Maddy, just chill, girl.”

“You, keep quiet.” She points at Queenie, jaw tightened, “it’s about time you all respected me like you should. I’ve always been better than you, but if it takes this to make you realize, then we better get a damn move on, huh?”

Her words erupt a world of protests from the others, with arguments and jabs that come to settle across Misty’s skin like poison ivy stings. Insults thrown back and forth, vicious in nature. Volleyed across the room and making her head spin.

Misty is silent at first, stunned into such. Perhaps Madison is powerful, to have caused such a cataclysmic reaction in the room. As though a series of tempests join and manifest into some super storm. All angry, fighting to be seen, heard. She takes a step back, not wanting to be part of it. Madison can have this to herself for all she cares.

“Girls, stop arguing.” Cordelia begins, nothing short of exasperated. She is rather pointedly ignored, earning a furrowed brow and a darkening expression. “Girls.” She repeats.

Nothing.

And Misty understands, she thinks. Her own head swims with thoughts and opinions all yearning to be free, but her most prominent thought is to head straight out of the door and into the security of her swamp. Loneliness may reside there, sit over her like a shadow; would she swap the dissection of the Coven to return to that?

Stepping forward, Cordelia’s cane taps the floor to try and garner attention. “Hey!” She gross in octave, sucking in heated air and pushing it right into the middle of the group.

They continue, ignorant to any good intentions to stop the fighting. Kyle has jumped in now, standing between where Zoe and Madison are dangerously close, practically yelling in one another’s faces. Misty’s eyes are wide as saucers, bearing witness to things that have always made her uncomfortable. Once again, her stomach swoops; her head thumps with unsaid words, all pushing heavily against her forehead. She blinks in a slow manner, soothing those temples with pressure from her massaging fingers. It doesn’t help. Nor does closing her eyes fully.

So, she reluctantly holds them open, just in time to see Cordelia try and step in, only to be pushed away backwards by the starlet who stands with venom on her tongue. It’s not much, only enough to bring a small stumble on those heels.

Enough for Misty to see red.

Any steps she’d retreated are stomped over, the floor reverberating beneath an unruly magic that flares within her.

“That,” Misty’s voice is a raspy and dangerous affair, “is enough!

Just as the words push past her thin lips, the pressure in her head releases. It spreads like falling sand through her body, moving with no barriers. Then, in a simultaneous move, the fire place explodes into life. The entirety of the hearth falls victim to those bursting flames, bringing with them a heat and singe that hits her skin forcefully.

It’s her turn to stumble on the spot, confused. Everyone else gapes those flames caught in their eyes. In an almost timid voice, Misty speaks, “did. . .did I do that?”

As she turns back to appraise the crackling fire, she finds it smaller, more controlled, but still dancing about with the will to remain.

For a second, she forgets how to breathe. Her body feels weird, energized, and she dare not admit that to anyone but herself.

But, as she turns to find those intrusive eyes on her very soul once again, she pales in the limelight.

Myrtle’s smile widens. “Pass.” She announces to the Cajun, lifting a hand to pat at her slumped shoulder.

A noise escapes Misty, neither good or bad.

“Are you kidding me? How do we even know that was her?” She points to the fire. “We were all shouting. It could have been any of us.”

“Well, it wasn’t me.” Zoe offers, smiling over at Misty. There is support there, something that Misty finds herself giving a smile in return to.

Queenie shakes her head. “Or me.” She shrugs. “And judging by how much you crapped your pants when it happened, it wasn’t you, either.”

“I – ” Madison begins, only to be cut off by Cordelia.

Now recovered from the initial shock of being shoved, she tries her best not to smirk, even if Misty can see it dying to sit on her pursed lips. “What did you say? About real power?”

“We can all do shit like that when we’re angry.” As if to prove a point, Madison focuses her own eyes and sets both candles on the table alight with flames that span far higher than any natural sight. Feet high, in fact. Enough to hover dangerously close to the ceiling.

“Pyrokinesis is finished.” Myrtle insists, “you both passed – there is no need for frivolities and showmanship now, Madison.”

She flicks her hand, and the flames disappear, but Madison still glares over to Misty.

“Well, looks like it’s all down to this, huh?”

The muscles in her neck tighten as she gulps, trying not to show any signs of fear. “Guess so.” Unfortunately, a certain amount of agitation does coat her insides, her lungs. Not about the idea of losing to Madison; sure, her ego would take a beating for all of a few seconds, but loss could soon be forgotten.

No, bigger things frighten her. Beyond Madison. Beyond some little test.

The idea that she might be in charge of a very world she doesn’t know, never mind understand. And she’s never exactly been a good leader.

After all, she came here for help, not to end up shackled down with this. With people that were willing to kill their current Supreme. What if they do that to her? She holds in her shivers as she appraises the group, wondering just how far they'd go to protect their Coven.

Theirs. Not hers.

She’s merely dipped her toes in the lake of this society, testing the waters. But they’re icy, biting at her skin, and somehow they expect her to dive right into the depths. This isn’t her Coven, not really. It could drown her, though. It will, eventually. Right? That’s what Cordelia has said, uttering the word burden in the most morose of ways.

Power. The most powerful witch.

A song of lure for many, lulling them as waves rock a ship delicately toward land. Misty isn’t swayed by such ideals.

She’ll never want power, not like that. Not if it makes her like Fiona.

“Our final task,” Myrtle announces, her voice loud and clear as it rings clearly in their ears. “This is another historic mark for our Coven, our next step in evolution. One of you two girls will lead us, will join the ranks of your predecessors.”

Misty drags her eyes away from Madison, unable to abide staring at her for any longer. It is Cordelia who draws her in again, and Misty sees flashes of the sacred taking, of words uttered to the group. Crippling weight. Consumed. Burden.

Against a constricting throat, she thickly gulps. In spite of that, an idea takes her and settles seeds of thought; why isn’t Cordelia taking this test with them?

An answer never comes as Myrtle continues. “Divination is the last wonder, and then we will know.”

Misty stares down at the ground.

“Come, to the table.”

Well, there is no running now.

Nor does she walk forward. Not at first. The others have made to gather with Myrtle. All except Cordelia, who lingers back with Misty and turns in her general direction as though intuitively able to sense her.

A hand reaches out, just like it had done the first time they met. This time, instead of waiting for Misty’s to meet it, she gently lands those fingers just at the crook of Misty’s elbow. “Are you okay?” She whispers, just for Misty to hear.

Head tilting across at the woman, she gapes. The answer doesn’t come in the form of words, and Cordelia worries her lower lip between pink teeth.

“Misty.” She says, hand squeezing around her flesh. It sends a shock the entirety of Misty’s arm. A sigh, an accepting thing that seems so out of place amongst all these bad vibes. “It’s okay to be scared.”

I’m terrified.

No one else can hear them, but Misty spasms on the spot. How does she know? Cordelia can’t physically see how harrowed the Cajun is by this idea of failing. Blind or not, she knows, and she seems to read Misty like an open book; she scrambles the get the covers closed.

She shrugs out of Cordelia’s touch and moves toward the table where expectant eyes are waiting.

“About fucking time.”

Misty gives her a real strong stink eye. It softens upon directing blue eyes toward Myrtle. “What do we gotta do?”

“Hidden among the items in this house are belongings of previous Supremes’.” Lifting a hand, she empties a bag of turquoise and aqua marbles over the surface, where they skitter to a halt. “Using these marbles, you will divine an item each, understand?”

Madison points a brow in the air. “That is it?”

“That is all you must do.”

“Damn, I can do that in my sleep. At least make the last task hard, you’re practically giving me the title.” She’s laughing cockily, gazing over the group.

She is alone in that laughter.

“Alright then,” Madison smirks, “let’s go.”

“Madison, I want you to divine for me the item belong to Anna Leigh Leighton.”

The blonde moves in closer, shadows moving around her face provided by the nearby candlelight. She leans down, shoulders hunched, and gently holds open arms above the piles of marbles.

The others watch the pivotal moment with their breath held, a stiffness to all of their muscles. This could all be it. Over, with one test. They wait, and wait, under the crackling of the fireplace, and the glow of the moon outside. The whole world watches, it seems, on this little Coven.

And they all get to see Madison trip and stumble, the signs of panic even if she fights them. She pulls back, hands flopping to her sides. “This is dumb.”

“It is your final task.” Myrtle repeats.

“Why do I have to find some dead bitch’s things? Who cares about some old Supreme?”

It becomes all too obvious then, that she can’t do it. Another fight breaks out, this time just between the older witches and Madison, whose tantrum echoes about the room. It bewilders Misty, such a sight – especially when tears soon follow in its wake. Crocodile tears, she thinks, until she spots maybe genuine hurt in the girl’s eyes. She’d wanted this, but for all the wrong reasons.

No shock rattles through any of them as Madison storms off, with promises of exposing the Coven, of never returning to this place. Her heels clatter angrily against the hardwood, each one jabbing right into Misty.

She blinks, not sure what to say. In a way, she kinda feels sorry for Madison. She’d really believe it was her, believed in herself. She had wanted it.

Yet for nothing more than selfish reasons.

And so the Cajun watches her go with not so much as another word. No one else can find them, either. All having been victimised by Madison one way or another, there is a rather distinct lack of people chasing after her. Maybe it’ll knock her down a peg or two.

Besides, their interest is honed in elsewhere.

On her.

Misty visibly gulps.

She stands in the same spot where Madison had failed the wonder, and turns to Myrtle for instruction. Even if her hands are trembling, if her guts quiver like a series of mini earthquakes about in there

Is it too late to scurry? Maybe. Certainly with such expectancy in their eyes. But this is what they’d said, huh? Fiona had singled her out, using the guise of imparting wisdom for her wicked ways. Had all the Supreme’s been like that? Is it inherently Supremely to lie and conspire, and only care about yourself? Or is that what it makes you become?

Maybe Fiona had been like her once, had been on the cusp on idealistic. Maybe it’ll be this very role that made her what she is.

And Misty trembles at the idea that it could change her.

“Misty,” Myrtle says, maintaining her serious tone even if there is a soft glint in her eyes. “Please divine for me the item belonging to Mimi DuLongpre.” Lifting her hand, she gestures towards the marbles that had stumped Madison so.

They sit, still as ever, and yet oh so intimidating. Misty stares, but she doesn’t do anything. Not at first. Anything the marbles might have to say can wait. They must have patience, seeing as her heart strums erratically to its own beat. Each heartstring tugged painfully spasms in her chest.

She once again tries to place her wobbly steps to this exact moment.

But they are reflected in the witch’s around her. Zoe, who she’d stumbled across by perhaps more than chance. Myrtle, brought back by her hand (and magic) and Cordelia, who in turn had released Misty from the grips of death. Not only that, but guided her steadily away from her icy Hell. This means more to them than Misty, this means so much. And she doesn’t understand, she doesn’t relate.

Still, she tries.

For them.

Just as Madison had done, Misty lifts her hands and hovers them just a few inches above. Almost instantly, there is heat trickling on the inside of her skin, a pleasant warmth like the sun basks on it. Only, it’s dark and the sun has long ago hit the hay for sleep.

Misty allows fingers to migrate, forehead creasing with concentration. She doesn’t really know all that well what she’s doing. Her gifts have never been something she’s studied for, they just kinda. . .are. So, this is unknowns territory for her. But a hot spot tempts her closer, and she holds her attention. There. Right there. Something trying to communicate in an ancient language.

Her nose wrinkles, eyes narrowed to thoughtful slits. Even in the quiet, her mind is chaotically loud and, where there isn’t her own thoughts, there are loud breaths and pulses, and those of the people surrounding her.

The name is repeated over and over to just herself, bouncing about her brain.

Before her, the language becomes clearer. Less jumbled, less blurred. It almost resembles the very words that naturally roll from her tongue. She dare not listen, not for a moment. ‘Cause that fear is returning, that stifling pressure that she’s often avoided.

And she can feel them. Watching, waiting. For her to happily announce just where the item is and accept this with open arms. As much ad the idea plagues Misty, she’s beginning to realize that her fate might just be tangled right in the middle of it. That destiny, a strange and inexplicable thing, is watching over her that night.

Ice strikes right to her heart, bears weight over her chest. A location sits all too transparently in front of her now, somehow understood in those randomly placed marbles.

Misty suddenly can’t speak.

It’s me. I’m the Supreme.

She knows it. She can feel it. The realization hits with the velocity of a train of a track, it holds her muscles at ransom with a crashing wave of energy and surging magic.

Someone speaks to her, but that gentle voice is a blur, like someone has her head held below freezing water. The gush of power rises, higher and higher until it has her almost free falling. It jumps, flies, from her center to the end of every finger, right down to her pinkie toe. Both invigorating and nauseating, it shows no sign of slowing; just an exponential peak that surely she'll fall from the top of.

Misty blinks down at her hands, where suddenly there seems to be a lot more fingers than she remembers having. “I – ”

A weight settles on her shoulder, and it takes her embarrassingly long to decide it is Cordelia’s hand. Misty gives one slow step away from the table, words trapped in her throat. The magic has exhausted all other routes and now attacks her brain, where she can’t do anything other than let it take control. Like it’s rerouting her whole head.

And then, just as quickly as the passing wind, all the chaos inside of her ceases

Misty sucks in a breath, desperate for air. Not enough is given, not for her starved brain. Suddenly, she’s blinking away spots, holding onto an aching head, and she hears worried calls as her drooping eyes plummet her into darkness.

Chapter Text

She’s vaguely aware of noises all around her, of the way that she’s manoeuvred from the hard floor to a more plushy setting of what must be the couch.

At first, she can’t move much. Not as she’s awash with such feelings, such brilliant energy that pours generously within. Then, she finds her figurative footing; regains her consciousness back on this side of the plane.

The first thing returned is a gush is air, pleasant and fresh as though the first breath ever taken. Fingers twitch against the satin on the nearby pillow. Muttering grows in volume.

“Is she gonna be okay?”

“What happened?”

One is Cordelia, “she’s gonna be fine, girls. You need to keep it together.”

“Cordelia is right. We must keep our heads, all will be well. I feel our bad luck will soon come to a tremendous halt.” Myrtle’s raspy voice moves through her like some sort of burrowing creature, leaving a tremor in its wake. Her bones rattle under such a sensation.

Here, eyes gingerly begin to poke open.

To find herself crowded and leaned over by the remains of their group. She is transported back in time, to when she’d fainted during a preaching after saving a bird. There too, the people had fawned and fussed, and her secret revealed.

She almost chokes on her own spit, only to be stopped as she spots relief taking hold of the other witches.

“You’re awake!”

Lifted by helping hands, she finds herself being helped into a sitting position. The whoosh to her head would normally slow her, but today it feels delightful. Misty gives her fingertips an experimental squish together, then runs them over her bare wrists. It feels different. She feels different.

A hand pats her back. “Damn girl, you had us scared. You fell like a ragdoll.”

“I – ”

She understands the words, the syllables, but replicating them on her own tongue feels alien for all of those few seconds.

“I told you she would be fine.” Cordelia smiles, perched right on the arm of the sofa and balancing herself with her cane. For good measure, she adds. “She is strong, after all.”

Strong.

A word that she associates with the deeply rooted and established trees of the swamps, that describes impressive rock faces and forceful rivers.

A word that she wouldn’t always equate to her.

She glances around the room, past the expectant faces and at the surroundings that somehow seem different.

“I’m sorry,” comes her words eventually. Soft; definitely not strong. “Didn’t mean to worry any of you.”

“Guess this means we're back at square one.” Zoe mumbles miserably.

Misty blinks in confusion, and said frown she wears pushes Myrtle into speaking. “What are you talking about, my dear Zoe?”

“Misty didn’t do it. She failed, too.”

At this, this Cajun sinks further in the spot. If they believe that, maybe she could feign it. Pretend that she doesn’t know exactly where the item is and that this extraordinary magic isn’t burning her veins.

But that would be lying, that would be deception. The idea has her stomach somersaulting in an awfully bad way.

Besides, Myrtle has moved attention away from the brunette and now casts it solely on Misty. It’s a pointed look, nothing short of knowing, and lips pucker together thoughtfully. “Misty?” She doesn’t out Misty’s success herself, but she gives her a metaphorical shove in the right direction.

Misty sucks in a breath, only to find no satisfying her lungs. She stares back, almost pained.

It doesn’t take much to sense something in their interaction, to spot discrepancies with Zoe’s statement. Cordelia, the blind one and yet the most in tuned, suddenly smiles. “You know where it is, don’t you?”

Misty's audible breath must give it away.

The air in the room changes, glances exchanged. Myrtle regards her with this boasting of pride that she’s never had before. After all, as a kid she’d only ever been punished and yelled at for her gift. It wasn’t something to feel good about; it has been a curse her parents had tried so desperately to hide.

But they’re not here, and Misty is.

Said gift refuses to be anything other than what it is. “It’s upstairs.” Misty finally pushes through the quiet. “Down the hall. The. . .second bedroom to the right, behind the headboard.”

Quiet befalls them as Misty hangs on trepidation. Then, Queenie is sent to check, returning gleefully with the diamond encrusted bracelet in her hand. It is displayed for all to see. No qualms. No denial.

Now they know, too.

“Behold,” Myrtle says, a powerful echo to her voice, “our new Supreme, Misty Day.”

There it is, words officially carved into the walls of this historic house.

Misty shifts on the spot. “Um, what do I do now?” She half whispers to the woman, wondering if there’s something she ought to say, ought to do.

Delighted laughter follows, and as it ebbs away, it apparently takes the stress of the evening with it. The others relax, they even adopt these happy smiles that offer her the hints of congratulations. “Why, you will lead us, of course.” Yeah, like it’s that simple. “But alas, it’s been a tumultuous journey here. Tonight, we will simply celebrate. Come, come, Kyle – get the champagne. It is not every night we have an ascension.”

She’s downright giddy, already hurrying the girls along with rapid hand movements. They need little convincing to do so.

Misty slowly rises to her feet, but doesn’t follow with such enthusiasm. An act quickly noticed. “I have a dress that would look just lovely with your complexion.” Myrtle smiles, dotingly so. A warm hand cradles Misty’s forearm, very much in an encouraging manner. Perhaps she can sense just how overwhelmed she is.

“I just – I need a second.” Misty says, an explanation as to why the soles of her feet are glued to the floor.

Myrtle nods in understanding. “Of course. Take your time.” She pauses, and then glances past Misty. Those thick lenses in her glasses distort and magnify dark eyes. “Delia?”

In the fog of her mind, she hadn’t realized that Cordelia still resides nearby. She’d question why she didn’t go with the others, but as it is her brain is pretty busy freaking the hell out.

Cordelia offers a gentle smile. “I’ll be right up.”

Myrtle’s lips part with unsaid words, but those black pupils dart from one woman to the other. “Okay.” She pats Cordelia’s shoulder as she passes, soon crossing the threshold out into the hallway. Her heels grow fainter in sound, voices ever so distant now.

Misty is left alone with her thoughts. And Cordelia.

“Are you gonna congratulate me, too?” She turns, offering a wry smile with her humored words, even if Cordelia can’t see it.

The older blonde taps a finger over the top of her cane. “There’s nothing to congratulate.” It is rather fitting with her previous statements on this whole affair, and brings Misty just as much discomfort.

“Is this gonna be as bad as you said it is?”

“What?” Cordelia’s head snaps around.

“You said – the Supreme thing. . .you talk about it like it’s. . .” Misty doesn’t want to say it, but she sure thinks it. A death sentence. She shudders, having always seemed to have the upper hand on death; maybe this is its great revenge.

“Misty – ”

“I didn’t ask for this.” She confesses to Cordelia, ‘cause it feels like she’s the only person who might truly understand that statement.

“That already makes you better than most of the woman who were Supreme.”

She blinks, digesting those words slowly. “Huh?”

“You don’t seek power, Misty. You don’t care about how strong the magic makes you – that’s all Fiona thought about.” Here, she glances down, fulling with perhaps something close to upset. “That’s what ruined her, what corrupted her. That incessant need. In my whole life, I don’t remember a time where my mother was anything other than selfish.”

Heavy words, shared on both of their shoulders. Here, Cordelia continues a thoughtful pause and then breathes in. “You’re not selfish, Misty.”

“How do you know that?” She challenges.

Turning gives her an opportunity to study Cordelia, to peruse the angles of her features like fine art. Just like the statues revered in museums, Cordelia encompasses a passing of wistfulness that Misty can’t turn away from. She reaches out, hand held in the air as though waiting for something. In turn, Misty’s gravitates toward it, seeking contact, connection. As she finds it, she knows in an instant that Cordelia is having a vision. Her reaction isn’t as dramatic this time, but it’s there. Subtleties in her movements that Misty listens to.

Then, Cordelia’s lips twist upwards. “You’re not selfish at all,” she repeats, “I can see exactly the kind of person you are, Misty.”

“You can?”

“Yeah, just like I could see Fiona for what she truly was.”

Misty blinks, really putting her hope in Cordelia’s accuracy. “What else can you see?” She asks in growing curiosity. It’s seldom they’ve been together and spoke about the other woman’s power, and now Misty finds herself yearning to take the pressure from her own situation.

“I don’t choose what I see.” Cordelia explains. “It could be the past, the future – timelines that might never exist. . .I just, see what I’m supposed to see.”

“What do you see when you touch me?”

Cordelia gives a pregnant pause, a hum of breath. It’s too long for Misty to bear, but the wait brings good tidings. “Light, laughter.” Then, she smirks. “You listen to Stevie Nicks an awful lot.”

She goes practically moon eyed. “If I ever don’t feel too good, she always makes me better.”

It draws a similar smile from Cordelia. “Well, remember that Misty.”

“Huh?”

“Remember what things bring you happiness, security. Keep them close, okay?”

She heads the words with a series of keen nods. “O – okay.”

Cordelia offers a small smile and makes to stand. “Will you help me upstairs?” Their hands are still joined, so Misty simply uses that to lead Cordelia forward and in the same path the other girls had taken. “You can borrow one of my dresses, if you like.” Less of a rush is taken with them, as Misty ensures she carefully navigates the stairs and then takes her all the way into her room.

As she leaves her there with a black dress hung over her arm, she finds herself hovering in the doorway. Watching. She wants more than anything to believe Cordelia’s words, so she does, hoping that is enough.

True to her word, Madison has left the house. In her wake, her and Zoe’s room is a residual sight of the starlet’s anger, and Misty wonders if she’ll ever see her again.

Or if she really does intend on “exposing” them. That isn’t considered right now, a problem that she’ll bury deep down.

Right now, she is preoccupied with far more terrifying matters.

“What does it feel like?”

Zoe adds on to Queenie's question. “Yeah, does your magic seem different?”

“I, uh, don’t really know. Maybe. A little.” She rubs at her temples. “I still got a headache.”

Headache or not, it doesn’t put a damper on her appetite. The table has been filled with a variety of strange looking cuisines; Myrtle had named them, but with eagerness and words that had gone right over Misty’s head. Sniffing at some kind of gray paste, Misty dips a little on her pinkie finger and then places it between her lips. It’s nice, if kinda salty, so she moves onto the next. A strange looking stew. As she transfers it to her own dish, some splatters in the deep red table cloth. Features tug with the air of panic, and fingers hurry to wipe the stain into the material.

It doesn’t work, so she merely places a coaster over it and glances around to see if anyone’s looking. No one is. Good save.

Misty finds a little bit of content as she soon fills her belly, ripping the crusty baguette in half to clean up the remains from her dish.

“Wine?”

She jumps slightly at the appearance of Kyle by her side, producing a bottle of dark liquid. She doesn’t remember ever trying it, but she’s never one to turn down free food and drink.

With a series of nods, she reaches for her glass and watches as a hearty amount is poured in before he makes his rounds of the table.

Misty experimentally holds her nose closer to the glass, only for it to wrinkle at the strength of the vapor inside. Holding in a cough, she allows for the smallest of sips of the dry liquid. It coats her tongue in a weird way, makes her mouth feel like it’s full of cotton buds, but then leaves her throat all warm and fuzzy. Another, large, sip is taken.

“Do you like it?” Myrtle asks by her side, not giving her a chance to answer before she delves into stories. “It was a gift in the seventies from a great philanthropist who was a dear friend of our beloved Supreme. She always wanted to save it for a special occasion.” One corner of her lips twist into a smirk before she raises her glass in acknowledgement toward Misty. “What is more special than this? I won’t see another ascension again in my lifetime.”

Misty drinks some more, especially now that everyone has turned to observe the conversation. Can she tell them to not stare so much? It’s unnerving, almost like she’s some animal kept behind bars.

Instead, she wills her voice to sound. “It’s nice.”

“Nice? Dear, it is a beautiful balance between sweet crispness and zest that gives it a multi – dimensional finesse.” The glass is twirled in her hands, transfixing Misty who stares with an absent half smile. “The aging process has only improved this magnificent piece – savor it well, Misty.”

She looks at her own, refracting in the dark light, then adds her version of wisdom. “It’s makin’ my mouth go all dry,” she rattles out in a low hum.

When she catches a grin from Queenie, a bit of choked laughter, she blinks and glances around again.

“You’ll get used to it.” Myrtle pats at her hand, a knowing smile.

“I think we could all do with a bottle each.” Cordelia adds, joking. The first time she’s been the sight of relaxed all day long. “We were one task away from having Madison Montgomery as our Supreme.”

“Now that would have certainly been a travesty.”

Zoe pipes up, interest in her dark eyes. “You wouldn’t have let her, right?”

“It is not for us to decide.” Ah, there Cordelia goes; that intense severity that the Supreme thing brings out in her. Already, her body has tensed on reflex, and Misty can practically feel the shift in her aura.

“But – ”

“Our opinion doesn’t matter,” Myrtle offers, then scoffs with incredulity, “do you think I was happy to see Fiona take on the role? No, but I had to support the Coven. That is, after all, what our purpose is.” Here, she has appraised Misty again, even if the warning is headed by the others. “The Coven is everything.”

Misty presses her lips tighter together as eyes beg to inch wider.

“And Madison would have run it into the ground!” Queenie announces, “well, what’s left of it anyway.”

“Yeah. . .five witches isn’t exactly much of a Coven, is it?”

“It is better than none.” Cordelia decides with confidence. She hadn’t touched her own food, but the wine glass remains steady in her right hand.

“Cordelia is right. We witches have persevered through the ages, and we will do it again!”

Misty wishes she could share in that confidence that Myrtle displays, a passion just as fiery as her red hair.

“With Misty at the helm, and you girls to help, our Coven with rise again.”

This quickly becomes a toast, a celebration of the night that has passed. Misty sits awkwardly under the attention, but doesn’t shy away. Not this moment. She can’t, when this is a result of her own sowing. She’d volunteered to try the seven wonders, she’d done every test, everything asked of her. Guess it’s time to reap those seeds. Why had she done this again?

Maybe it’s ‘cause they’d simply asked, they’d needed help. Just like she’d helped nurse Kyle back to health, brought Madison back when she was so far gone. . . ‘cause someone needed her to.

It’s nice to needed, to be wanted. A rare occasion, but a blessed one.

Such a shame that what she’s needed for now isn’t as easy as cheating death. It’s leading lives, guiding minds; a great feat for her lonely little soul.

“Can I say somethin’?”

Silence.

Nerves sit in the air like crashing waves, splashing over all of them. No more than Misty, who fidgets and touches the unused cutlery either side of her dish in an idle manner.

“Um, I’m not any good at speeches an’ that sorta stuff, but – er – I just want you guys that know that I’ll always try my best.” She speaks over her unsteady breaths and offers nothing short of genuine, “you guys took me in when I needed it, you saved me from that cemetery. . .and you. . .” She slows, realizing that she’s solely looking at Cordelia instead of the group, “you helped me get outta that awfully cold place – the least I can do is my best, huh?”

Cordelia must be able to feel the pure gratitude, for she’s smiling real wide. In the dim light, there is mystery and allure to her expression; enough to draw Misty in.

That glass in her hand is lifted high, higher, until it sits level with her glasses. “To our new Supreme.” She offers out, soon echoed by the others. Then, quieter. “To Misty.”

For the first time since waking up, the weight atop her doesn’t feel so crushing, like maybe she’s evolved foundations built just for its very existence.

The late hours trudge on far into the morning, until there are bleary eyes and minds clouded from the alcohol. Misty can’t elude that feeling; she soon finds herself blinking profusely to just remain focussed as Myrtle shares stories of the years past.

Calm is something she’s never experienced in this house. Well, until now. The walls soak in the peace with eagerness, and clutch onto it for just another day.

Misty sucks in a long breath. “I’m pooped.” Her headache has subsided, but it hasn’t quite released its grip yet. “think I’m gonna go to bed.”

It sets off a catalyst for the others to retire, for even more quiet to be bestowed upon the house.

Only for Misty to be stumped as she starts to head to her room, the one shared with Queenie, and paused with bird like laughter. “Oh, Misty. Where are you going?”

She doesn’t hide her confusion. “Uh, bed?”

Myrtle is already reaching out, grasping her with warm fingers. “Come with me.”

“Where are we – ”

“You are the Supreme, you get your own room. As it has always been.”

A wince firmly takes hold of her features. “You mean Fiona’s room?”

“It is yours now.”

She nods. “Oh. Right.” And soon they are there, opening the door to stare around at the grand room that she supposes she ought to call home. It’s double the size of her cabin, easily. Yet she finds her body curls in on itself as she enters, intimidated by something. She can’t quite put her finger on it. Timid eyes lift, move around the furniture. Fiona’s things are still there, a lasting memory – singed into the room.

Padding further it, Misty tries to shake the weird vibrations from her body.

“I know it might not be to your taste,” Myrtle begins, having first hand witnessed Misty’s unique style, “but you can do with it what you like.”

“I can?”

“Of course, my dear. But that’s for another day. Rest, you’ve been through a lot.”

Misty is already being led over to the bed, eyeing furniture as she goes along, “maybe I’ll paint it.” She decides through a yawn.

After a moment of musing, Myrtle nods. “Maybe. We’ll have to get some of the staff to – ”

“No,” she cuts across quickly, “I wanna do it.”

And maybe that befuddles Myrtles, maybe it is what she’s expecting, but she does speak after a moment. “Okay.” She then gives this long study, a thoughtful affair where her voice becomes all airy. “The right person succeeded today.”

Misty stares back, eyes glistening, “ya really think so?”

Why does everyone have so much faith in her?

“I know so. I’ve been part of this Coven’s Council for many years – I’ve seen our inner workings, strengths, weaknesses. You,” she cups Misty’s jaw, “are just what we need.”

And Misty has nothing to say to that, not when the idea mystifies her so. She’s never been needed by anyone, and it’s a foreign idea to her.

“Now, there are important matters to go through. Things you must learn in your new role. Obviously you'll need to decide on a Council. . .”

Now the second time it’s mentioned, she blinks and cocks her head to the side in a slow and sleepy move. “Council?”

“The council will help guide you, help to keep order. But we'll discuss it in the morning.”

Misty nods, eyes hooded and running the risk of drooping fully closed. Here, Myrtle gives one lasting smile and begins a retreat.

She’s just at the threshold of the door when Misty calls out her name, her own words sure and delicate in the early hour. “I want Cordelia on my Council.”

If anything, Myrtle’s smile widens. “You can ask her in the morning.”

She’s already reclining on the pillows; far too plump and soft than what she’s used to. “I will.”

And then Myrtle has gone. It’s just Misty, alone in this stranger’s room. Her room, she guesses. She doesn’t even manage to change out of her clothes when her exhaustion takes over. It leaves her stretched out atop the blankets in the warmth, staring at the ceiling, and wondering just where she stands in this scary new world.

 

Chapter Text

The morning is crisp, each blade of grass weighted down with its own bead of dew. Night still holds on in dregs of dimness, in lingering clouds, but Misty senses their retreat, welcomes it. As she makes her way down the large set of stairs, pausing at every window to take in that view each time, she is gifted with birdsong.

She is driven not by hunger or purpose; only the need to become part of this morning herself. That’s how she finds herself stood at the back door, feeling the weak heat of sun rays on her skin, and sighing out the insistent nerves.

Peace as it may seem, there are always forces to revolt against it. Misty spies that very sight this morning. In the form of a withering soul that belongs to a bluebird. Ruffled plumage tells the story of some kind of attack, jagged claw marks entailing to more.

She crouches, lifting its limp neck with her pointer finger and giving a disgruntled little noise. “Now, who did this to you?”

Peering around, she finds no perpetrators in the nearby foliage. No guilty party. As it is, she doesn’t need someone to blame, not when she has the solution. It sears in her finger tips, leaning toward death and passing like it’s coded into her soul.

Misty doesn’t take long to succumb to that feeling. She grants her magic its wish, allows it to flow with no restraints and, for the first time, truly witnesses just how it has transformed. For usually this act would leave her winded, dizzied; at the very least lost for breath. Today, there is no physical barrier that stops the powers pushing through and toward the helpless creature.

At first, it’s a slow movement, just a tickle that becomes a stream, and all too easily begins cascading from her. She isn’t wearied, far from it. She’s lost to a thrill that she’s never felt before, a buzz in her muscles like all the tendrils dance about merrily.

This time when she’s breathless, it’s in the best way, the strangest way. She does draw in a mouthful of fresh air as the bird jumps into life, far faster than ever before, and stares back at her.

Black eyes linger on hers, intense, pretty. Misty is so captured in staring at them that it takes her a few seconds to notice the distinct lack of wounds against the vibrant blue feathers. She holds it gently, “there ya go, and don’t get in any more trouble.” It gives an experimental flap of its wings, tilts his head, and then heads off into the morning with foraging awaiting.

Her own stomach growls in understanding. With a smile, she observes the flight away for all of a few seconds before she heads back for the kitchen. In her absence, it appears to have filled itself with another guest.

“Cordelia.” She jumps slightly at the sounds of Misty’s voice, but the Cajun wishes she could see the happy smile she wears.

The woman flattens her hands against the counter. “Misty, I didn’t realize you were up.”

“Well, it was too pretty a mornin’ to miss.” She shrugs, “plus the house was so quiet. Thought I’d take advantage.”

“It’s awfully quiet these days,” Cordelia comments. Turning in the direction of Misty, she offers this reminiscent sigh and readjusts the sunglasses on her face. “You should have seen this place when I was a kid – so different, so lively. . .I had hoped we would keep it that way but Hank did his fair bit to eliminate half of the witches in this town.”

Misty gulps, hit with the bitterness like shrapnel from an explosion. Her fingers rub against her dress, the old one that she’d hurried back into this morning. Far more comfortable than the formal number Cordelia had gifted her. “He was killin’ witches?” she queries in horror, “but why?” She thinks of the hunter that chased her from her bed, and wonders. . .

“For the same reason that those people burned you alive.” Cordelia sighs, suddenly bringing a dreary demeanor about the room. “Because they don’t understand us.”

Misty frowns, feeling the weight of responsibility – is it left to her to make people understand? ‘Cause, in all honesty, she hasn’t really gotten her head around much yet. Maybe she’ll need a couple of weeks, or months (or years, a more troubled voice suggests).

Shaking what uneasiness she can like a great tree keen to lose its last burden of crisp and decaying leaves, she forces a smile on her lips. It widens as she eyes where Cordelia is patting the counter in search of the cereal boxes. “Here,” she hurries, “let me.” The nearest one, half empty, rattles under her touch, “where do ya keep the bowls?”

Cordelia pauses for a second, then snaps into action. “Top shelf. There’s a blue one, I – I like that one the most.”

It is spotted with ease and quickly collected for her. “Do you want me to pour it for you?”

Cordelia twists her neck further, lips formed into a strange smile. “I’ll be fine.” The light chuckle that follows helps to put them both at ease. “To be honest, I could do with a strong coffee and a potion to get rid of this headache. I don’t know what Myrtle put in that wine but my God.”

Already, she is massaging her forehead, crinkling the skin at the same time.

“Oh, I don’t feel so bad. . .mustn’t’ve drank that much.” Her eyes flitter about the unfamiliar kitchen, “how do I make you coffee?”

Cordelia quickly gives directions, then adds curiously. “I wonder if being Supreme gives you immunity from hangovers.” She laughs wryly, “that is a power I wouldn’t mind.”

At the reminder her of her new. . .status, she stills, hovering the coffee pot just at the rim of the mug. Its pungent scent tries to cloud her mind, but it’s already usurped by a great fog of uncertainty.

Misty makes a noise, an incoherent thing.

“What was that?”

In a whisper, “oh, nothin’.”

Regardless of if it’s not quite what she wants, she pushes on and uses her cane to find her way to the table. “How did you sleep?” She winces a little, not needing her second sight to know the answer.

“Hm, okay, I guess.” There’s a pause, where she waits for a response that never comes. All it does is encourage her own thoughtful round of rambling. “Weird, kinda – that was your mom’s room, an’ I felt. . .I think I felt somethin’ – I dunno how to explain it.”

But she’s not asked to, something that allows her to relax.

Strangely, it’s her that finds questions rolling off her tongue in turn. “You seem happier today?”

Cordelia sighs, “yeah.” She gratefully takes the coffee that Misty places in her hand, suddenly smiling as their fingers graze, and makes to take a sip. “I feel that maybe we’re coming to the edge of the woods, you know?”

“You think?”

“Well,” Cordelia curls her fingers around the mug as though seeking warmth from it. “I’d like to think so. . .this Coven has had Fiona for a long time – too long. But everything comes to an end eventually.” She’s awfully wistful for this time in the morning, but that’s just Cordelia, isn’t it? The realist who bursts any beginnings of dreams with her harrowing words. For a second, Misty lets a study of Cordelia occur, searching for what lies behind her blunt and assured words. There must be a dreamer in there somewhere, right? Deep down, hidden beneath the plague of responsibilities that adulthood brings.

“Why do you always gotta sound so wise?” Misty begins with a wry smile that maybe radiates toward Cordelia.

But the woman is already denying such a statement. “Oh Misty, I’m really not.”

“You are, you know everything.”

There’s a regretful way that she tilts her head down as though she could admire the gentle swirls in the surface of her coffee. “I wish I did. Maybe things would have ended up different – you wouldn’t have got killed by Madison, I wouldn’t have been in a sham of a marriage, and I would have realized my mother’s plan a lot earlier. No, I don’t know much of anything, I’m afraid.”

“But you’re the headmistress,” Misty comments slowly.

“I don’t even think I deserve to be that.” She isn’t expecting it, this wiggling little show of self deprecation. It makes Misty’s stomach clench, drawn to a suffering creation. Now, Cordelia may not be in the same predicament as the bird Misty had saved moments ago, but the Cajun is lured to her in just the same way. She even feels her feet scoot further forward, hands itch to reach and touch; she may fight to keep them there, but it’s a fruitless effort that leads to fingers gently dropping to the woman’s shoulder.

“Hey, why would you say that?” Her voice is tight, questioning. She hovers nearer despite her best efforts to give space.

In contrast, Cordelia reclines slightly and shakes her head. “Because it’s true.”

“You are a great leader.”

“Misty – ”

“Why didn’t you take the test?”

The older blonde sucks in a stinging breath. “What?”

In turn, Misty blinks and wears her confusion as plain as the clouds in the sky. “The seven wonders. Everyone had to do ‘em. Except you didn’t. . .” Her head tilts to the side and she idly chews at her lower lip. “How come?”

“Well, why would I have?”

Questions, it seems, are flying freely in the kitchen that morning, and another joins the masses. “Why not?”

“Because I – it was never going to be me, was it?”

There’s such belief in those words that Misty has to do a double take, a bit whiplashed from such. It’s nothing short of bewildering; seeing a woman like Cordelia doubt her own strength that glows oh so bright, and yet she lives in a world of darkness, it seems. Misty can’t help wondering if that’s due to Fiona, or if Cordelia chooses to reside there herself.

Either way, her frown deepens. “It could have been anyone. You said so.”

“And it’s the right person,” Cordelia counters with.

As is becoming a conditioned response, Misty’s gut tightens. She doesn’t have to feign a smile, but maybe Cordelia can hear the strained intonations in her voice that give way to something else. “Yeah, everyone keeps sayin’ that.”

Once again, she finds herself on the receiving end of yet another pep talk. “You’re gonna be so much better than Fiona.”

“Yeah,” she huffs in a dry laugh, “ain’t exactly hard.” Inside, she fights a panic that tries to convince her otherwise.

At least Cordelia laughs, too. So strange, laughing at the expense of her own mother, but Misty understands a thing or two about estranged family. As such, she doesn’t judge. She does, however, speak ever so softly. “Hey, Cordelia?”

She lifts her chin attentively, turns her body slightly in Misty's direction. “Yes?”

“Um, Myrtle said somethin’ about a Council thing, an’ I don’t really know what that is.” She nervously flicks her tongue over dry lips, trying to string the right words together. “But I figured you pretty much know everythin’ about this place and magic, and all kinds of stuff about Supremes – I just, I don’t know who else I’d trust to help me.”

As her words draw on, admittedly growing more edgy in nature, she finds this delicate smile planted on Cordelia’s smile. And intent blue eyes are witness to its blossoming. “You trust my opinion?” She dares to ask.

“Well, yeah.”

Cordelia, apparently, is stunned into silence other than long and steadied breaths.

It coaxes the Cajun into continuing, words following the rhythm of her strangely thumping heart. “So, uh, what do ya think?”

She clasps her hands together in a slow manner, anticipating her reaction.

“Are you sure that’s you want that?”

“I’m askin’ you, ain’t I?”

Contemplative as her pale features may be, Cordelia’s smile eludes to a decision already made. “Okay.”

“You will?” Misty doesn’t know what she sounds so excited (relieved), but muscles do spring her forward. They seek touch in their excitement, and find the unmoving body of Cordelia that she quickly sweeps into a hug.

It surprises the woman too, who elicits a tiny noise that rings like birdsong in Misty’s ear. As much as she wants to concentrate on that, there are more things that are noticed beneath hands and felt against her chest. The way that Cordelia softens, how the embrace wears down at the tenseness that she’s held firmly since Misty got here. It’s seemed so deeply embedded, crystallized on her skin. But maybe, just maybe, it can be shifted.

So, Misty squeezes her that little bit tighter, “thanks Cordelia.”

Hot breath tickles her ear, holds the teasing of a response. Though she gets quiet for those first few seconds. Enough for her to draw back and search for words in her expression.

Instead, she finds another matter drawing her attention. “Oh shoot, I knocked your glasses.”

There they sit, far past askew, and Misty's fingers beat Cordelia’s.

“Here,” she smiles, tilting a little closer to concentrate, “that better?” Ever so briefly, she spies the damage done beneath, cringing in a bitter guilt.

“Yes.” She presses lips together. “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Misty smiles, “guess that makes you my council, an’ I’m lookin’ forward to it.” With this grin, and budding excitement that she tries to cling onto, she nudges the woman, “you did say we make a great team, huh?”

Cordelia is suddenly nodding her agreement, albeit in this kinda of shy and mystified way. “I did.”

“Plus you know an awful lot more about this place than I do. . .”

“You’ll learn,” she chuckles.

“I sure hope so. To be honest, Cordelia, I don’t really have any idea what I’m doin’.” She’s glad that Cordelia can’t see the worry sewn tightly into her features. “Or even where to start. I guess I. . .I kinda feel sick just thinkin’ about it all.”

“Misty.”

“Kinda lame, huh?”

Cordelia’s poised with words, ready to go, but Misty beats her to it with this hollow laugh. “I uh, every time I’ve tried to be a leader, bad stuff kinda happens.”

There, she’s admitted it. The same thoughts that have plagued her through the night and now into the morning.

“I know.”

It completely throws Misty, the tiny confession she stumbles across there. And she wonders (panics) over how Cordelia knows that, until she spots how her hand seems to have found the woman again. How it sits with purpose on her forearm, and in that touch it appears she’s shared more than she’d realized.

Misty sucks in a breath, and pulls away.

“Forgot about the second sight thingy.” She laughs.

“I don’t mean to,” she shrugs apologetically, “it just happens.”

The Cajun is already shaking her head. “Don’t worry, I got nothin’ to hide.”

She’s met with a genuine smile, and her own grows to match. Then, a few moments later, she switches the conversation with a sporadic thought, “hey, do you got any paint?”

That’s where the day takes here, dragging out dusty furniture, airing the memories and phantoms from the soft materials of the room; they are hung from the balcony in flowing strands. Misty, with humid air and sleeves rolled as high as they can go, works diligently, with sweat on her wrinkled brow. As long as it takes the blazing sun to cross over the purple sky, she soon has the bedroom transformed.

Long gone is the dull and impersonal white, but now sits a forest green that drags nature inside. Maybe not where it belongs, in such an immaculate house – she invites it either way. Instantly, the deep hues have her at ease, wrapped in warmth. Still, it barely fills a hole that’s there despite her best efforts.

Sapphire eyes migrate around the room, over things that don’t belong to her. Perhaps if she brought her own things the transformation would be complete, a true passing of the room to her. Still, something lingers. Like Fiona remains and refuses to fully relent.

With that strange air hanging around her, she shudders a little. Spin running cold, blood coursing with more effort.

Misty does her best to elude it, keeping hands and body busy, until it gets too much. Here, she flees to the open doors of the balcony and resides there. With bare feet on the warm stone and ringed hands curling around the railings, she surveys what lies below. Big garden (not as big as her woods), a lively city within earshot (not as lively as her nature) and a new world (far, far bigger than her old little existence).

Misty stands there, wondering if this is what a princess feels like as they survey their kingdom, if their heart sits in their throat. If it chokes and hinders them.

She tries to put the fact that breathing is more difficult due to the overpowering paint fumes, and gets a decent way there of convincing herself.

Maybe she can keep on doing that. Keep on convincing.

She's vaguely aware of movement in her peripherals, though only reacts as Zoe's voice sounds. “Pretty, isn’t it?”

“Hm, well I prefer cicadas to the traffic, but the jury’s still out of that view.” From here, she can see above tree lines, across the horizon, and take in a pretty outline of New Orleans.

They both continue to stare ahead, thinking. The air is thick with such.

“So,” Zoe is slightly awkward in her approach, but quickly gains footing. “Who thought when we first met we’d be here?”

Misty allows a smile, “guess I have you to think for this.”

“You’re the one who just appeared in my car.” Zoe gives a light laugh. Even so, there always seems to be a strangeness about her, a seriousness that Misty just doesn’t have the ability to grasp. Zoe is heavy where she is light but maybe both are troubled in their own way.

“My magic led me there,” she shrugs, like it’s that easy.

“Maybe it was destiny,” Zoe suggest, “maybe we were supposed to meet that day.”

And Misty remembers it well. Following the pungent trail led by forces unknown, pulled towards Zoe and Kyle. It’d ended up with the boy in her cabin, nursed back to health by her own hands, only to betray that help; she shudders at the very memory.

Something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Zoe, who frowns at her.

It deepens when Misty admits her fears in a low drawl. “I thought you weren’t gonna come back, after you took Kyle.”

“But I did.”

She gives a joyless smile. “Only ‘cause you needed my help.” Then, with this suffocating tug in her chest, she licks her lips and stupidly asks a desperate question. “If you hadn’t needed me. . .would ya have come back?’

And the way Zoe’s face falls is answer enough.

“Yeah, thought so.”

“No, it’s nothing again you, Misty. You have to understand – we were in danger, and things were crazy here, and to be honest you were kinda. . .”

Her head snaps up. “What?”

Zoe stalls again, reeking of unease from the situation she’s suddenly buried in. “Um.”

“S’okay,” Misty sighs, “I know what you’re gonna say. Weird, right? Ain’t the first time I’ve been called that.” Doesn’t make it hurt any less.

“Unique.” Zoe corrects.

“That’s what my Daddy would say instead of weird to make me feel better.” She turns, and sets sharp eyes on the trying girl. “It don’t make a difference.” Brushing fingers through painful covered fingers, she sighs, “I ain’t mad at you for not wantin’ to come back, I’m used to people leavin’.” Even so, the way she’d cried and danced sits so lucidly in her memories that it begins to burn the neurons.

Her eyes well, stinging, and she turns away.

“But you’re here now,” Zoe says, maybe attempting to ease Misty’s doubts and simultaneously shed her own guilt.

“Yeah.”

Easing in a breath, the brunette watches her curiously. “And I guess this is all yours.”

Misty glances down. “Hm.”

Until she’s surprised by the next statements made, spoken in genuine and gratitude. “You can keep on using your magic for good – to help other witches. If it wasn’t for you and your mud, I wouldn’t have Kyle.”

“Well, that mud is amazin’.”

Zoe smiles, eyes refusing to move from Misty. The two simply share a moment of quiet, a couple of introverted souls perhaps at a soft agreement.

After a few minutes, Zoe sighs. “Myrtle said to come and get you for dinner. She told me to make sure you wash your hands.”

“Ah.” Misty grins down at those green fingertips. “Yeah, I better do that.”

She does, a frenzied event of scrubbing over nails until a raw pink that stings a little. Either way, those clean hands can no longer stain the fancy crystal glasses, or pure white china.

And Myrtle dictates the conversation with stories of times gone past, of her own youth at the Academy. It brings strange glances from the youngest witches, both baffled and intrigued over the past of their Coven. Cordelia, no stranger to such tales, smiles preemptively before the peaks, a rosy joy to her cheeks.

Misty finds herself watching that more curiously than listening to such stories, and quickly jerks her head in the opposite direction.

She doesn’t think about it, by forcefully not doing so, and instead cleans the rest of her plate (plus dessert) until her stomach feels rather satisfied. Now, this is something she could get used to.

And again, the wine comes pouring out like there’s an endless supply. Myrtle has another story for this one, speaks of its provenance and purpose like the fruity creation is something more than a drink to be consumed. Her eyes sparkle with satisfaction, reverence, as lips are stained red with each sip.

Her own must be the same, as tonight’s wine is sweeter and trickles down far easier.

Cordelia doesn’t drink much, she notices. She doesn’t eat all too readily either, Misty spies. And when the woman begins to make an exit from the room, Misty finds her attention glued to her.

She quickly excuses herself, too, following the feel of Cordelia’s melancholic aura until she finds her in the greenhouse. “You leavin’ so soon?” She questions with a smile.

Cordelia, turns out, hadn’t been doing much more than sitting and thinking. Her entrance seems to have interrupted such important work. “There’s only so long that you can hear Myrtle talk about a wine’s bouquet.”

“Oh, that was about the wine? I thought she had started talkin’ about flowers but I was real confused.”

Cordelia’s smile grows, “no, just the wine still.”

“She’s pretty enthusiastic about it, huh?”

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had reason to celebrate,” She confesses.

“Well, I’m glad she’s got the chance.”

A small nod, another smile. Then, a falter. “Why didn’t you stay in there?”

I don’t know.

“Just, kinda needed a break, too.”

She finds sympathy in the expression. “Well, while I’ve got you, I’ve been thinking over important things to explain to you.”

“Ah,” She practically hops with enthusiasm, stepping closer to the woman. The only seat is the nearby workbench, which she perches herself on and swings legs slowly. “I’m listenin’.” She looks to Cordelia as though she holds all the answers.

“Well, first, there are the lessons that we’ve taught. How to use magic safely, how to stay protected, how to – ”

“How to hide your magic, you mean?” Misty blinks.

“Our Coven has always kept our magic a secret. We find girls who exhibit these powers, we help them understand them, we – ”

“You never found me.”

Cordelia quickly falls silently.

Doesn’t matter, as Misty has words raring to go. “I never got to go to no witch’s school.”

“Our research. . .isn’t flawless.” There is clear regret in her voice, but it doesn’t change anything. Not really.

“Do you think there are other girls?” Misty poses.

Only to be met with pensive silence.

“There’s gotta be, right?” She ponders, “girls who get missed, girls who get abandoned, and – bad stuff might happen to them, too.” For a second, she relives the horrid touches to her body, how it’d be dragged to the pyre. For just a moment, pain reins over all.

Cordelia sighs and gives her piece. “We will do our best to find them all.”

“What if that ain’t enough? There’s only five of us.”

“Zoe and Queenie are hard workers,” Cordelia says, “and I can show you all of my work. All of my research – you’d be surprised how many parents contact us.”

Misty inhales sharply, unsure what to think. After all, the idea of helping others comes naturally to her; it’s something she wants to contribute to. Yet inside there is a revolt of feelings, an uneasiness.

How can she advocate a system that failed to even help her? And the more Cordelia talks, the more the girl’s brain hurts from the churning of thoughts. There’s gotta be a better way. . .

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Misty knows that concentrating isn’t exactly her strong suit. Never has been, never will be. Focus doesn’t come as a natural state to the woman, not when distractions come in plenty and try to pry her from her task.

Said task involves her in Cordelia’s office with the very woman herself. There are papers and folders galore, enough to make her brain melt in the big pot of bubbling thoughts. As much as Cordelia tries to explain and share her methods, it isn’t exactly easy when she is going by muscle memory alone.

“This drawer.” She blindly reaches out and taps her hand against the second one, “in there are news articles, police reports. . .ones that mention strange happenings. Usually the result of magic. We follow up on as many as we can. ”

Misty opens it slowly, sweeping the edges of the musty papers between her thumb and forefinger. “How do you know it’s magic?”

There is a wry tug of Cordelia’s features. “You don’t. That’s the tricky bit.” She leans back in her seat where it creaks and protests the sudden change. “But we reach out to as many girls as we can.”

Misty nods. “Yeah, well – we gotta keep doin’ that, right?”

Agreeing with a hum, Cordelia gently tilts her chin in Misty’s direction. “Of course. It’s our job to help.”

“And this stuff will help?”

“It’s the best we have to go on,” she nods, fingers idly moving over the cluttered desk. A busy sight, but tidy in its own way. “I tried to keep things as organised as I can, kept detailed notes on every girl I came across. . .” Hands pull out the soft beige files, all with dog eared and bright colored tabs sticking out at varying angles. Stack upon stack, set in an askew pile. “But it’s easy to get intimated by it all.”

They are soon outstretched for Misty’s perusal, where the Cajun unsurely grabs at the papers and flicks through them. Newspaper cuttings, witness statements, even candid photographs in some; all kinds of women, girls, all who need the reassuring guidance of the Coven. How Misty wishes she could have been one of these girls in Cordelia’s filed. What she would have given for someone to appear at her home with promises of helping her understand her gift – not only that, but to live amongst others who appear to share the golden bloodline.

She sighs, and regrets for just a few moments. Enough for her heart to sink as though lead laden and destined to be at gravity’s whim.

“You used to do this all by yourself?”

Cordelia gives a small smile, a shrug, and makes work of minimising her duties. “Someone has to do it.”

“What about Myrtle?”

“Oh, Myrtle is far too busy for that.”

Misty blinks. As the papers are slowly lowered back onto the desk, she glances around over the surroundings. While the work load is aplenty, it doesn’t take a detective to notice the lack of photographs, silly little nick nacks. “Zoe and Queenie?”

This brings the woman to a halt from where her eyebrow points up. “They are still busy learning how to control their own magic.”

“And you ain’t busy?” Misty poses. Across from Cordelia's desk a small seat calls to her and she quickly plonks herself down as the mounting work suddenly hits her.

The woman merely laughs at the idea. “Always. But, you know, duty calls.”

Misty nods slowly, trying to understand. She hasn’t done this sort of stuff since school, and even then she’d abandoned that at the ripe age of fifteen. Academia, a studious existence – it just isn’t her calling. In fact, the very idea of it already has her head pulsing in familiarity to the way it would at school. Even so, she sighs. “I can help you, you know. As much as you need.”

“Well,” Cordelia starts. Already, there is this different tone to her voice. Amused, but very much covering up some awful bad feelings. “I’ll certainly need you to be my eyes.”

Misty gives a sympathetic tug of her lips. “Oh, ‘course.” Then, she nods with an envious amount of eager. “I can do that.”

Another tilt toward her, a face hidden behind glasses. She wonders, for a second, if they’ll always be used as that barrier.

“Thank you.” Objects on her desk are idly touched, played with. Does she recognise them? Does she even remember how her desk had looked? Misty gulps, trying to think of what her own life would be like in such darkness; to have the flowers and green surfaced waters and ever-changing sky plucked from her life forever. Even the very notion has her pale faced, the wrong side of nauseous, and drowning in that growing pool of guilt.

As such, she finds words flying out. “If there’s anythin’ else you need help with, please, just lemme know.”

Silent for a moment, Cordelia has Misty teetering in fear over if she’s being all kinds of patronizing. But her words come from the heart, born of good intentions, and she hopes Cordelia can sense that even without her second sight.

Finally, she speaks. “Your job as a Supreme isn’t to – ”

“I ain’t sayin’ this as the Supreme.”

The woman succumbs to quiet again.

Gifted the stage, Misty sighs out her sincerity. “I’m sayin’ it as your friend.” She comments, stumbling a little on the last word. Rarely spoken from her tongue. When had she last had a friend, a true alliance? Does she even know what it means to have a friend? Sure, she could look up the word in the dictionary, but equating those feelings to another person seems a muddling of two very unsure worlds.

Yet she looks at Cordelia, and she feels a stronger tug than she’s ever felt before. It could be a side effect of how her newly evolved magic, or maybe she could dare to think that this woman might experience that tug too.

After all, she’d brought her back, hadn’t she? Twice, no doubt. Even at the cost of their own health. That. . .that sort of stuff doesn’t happen to Misty; people don’t make sacrifices for her.

And yet, she stares at the very evidence that someone has. The same woman whose smile grows wider. “Misty, I’m fine.” Her voice is softer than she ever remembers it being. “Honestly, you don’t need to worry about me.”

She counters rather quickly. “Everyone needs help with somethin’. Even if it’s help with this work, or stuff around this house, I can help. Like – Zoe said you’d normally get the groceries. I’ll do that from now on.”

The corners of Cordelia’s mouth twitch. “Misty.”

“Or making sure everyone is fed an’ stuff. . .checkin’ the plants in your greenhouse. You name it, I’ll do it.”

Her brow points up, arched and amused. “Are you always so keen?”

“I like to do things.” Misty admits. “An’ I don’t like seein’ people struggle.”

This comes as news to Cordelia. “You think I’m struggling?”

“I think everyone ought to do their fair share, right?”

Cordelia laughs now, her hands coming to a halt where they’d been trying to neaten up the pile the best she can.

It leaves Misty all but dumbfounded, and yet not shy enough to keep her thoughts within. “Why are you laughin’?”

“Because,” she says, almost in relief, “you are so different to my mother.”

She thinks of the icy woman she’d come across, the darkness in her eyes. Her magic intimidating, powerful, and yet the only thing to fill the hollow chest where a heart ought to be. Misty lets a hand linger over her own ribcage, feels for the steady thump of a heartbeat. Ah, there it is; strong. Clear.

If there’s one thing Misty knows, it is the presence of her own heart, for too often she finds it broken.

“I don’t wanna be like her. Anything like her.” And yet, they already have one thing in common.

“You don’t have to be scared of that.”

“How do you know?”

Misty, like always, looks to others for answers. Too frightened that she’ll never find them in herself. For her blood and bones are made of an inquisitive nature – always seeking more, normally coming up empty handed.

She stares at Cordelia, and she prays that perhaps this time could be different. Tugging at her lips thoughtfully, Cordelia’s contemplation comes to an disappointing end as she brushes over anything close to a real answer. “Anyone who’s met the both of you could tell you that – now, come on. I thought you said you wanted to help?” Her tone rises at the end, a delicate cadence that invites Misty closer.

She swallows the slight blow in silence, but quickly reconvenes. After all, the aid is needed. And she’s gotta learn, right?

Even if words blur and smudge into dancing lines of black, even if the piles are endless sights of their growing duties, and even if Cordelia's strong aura of perfume is mighty distracting.

...

It all gets a bit much after a while. Small open windows aren’t enough to remove the stillness from the room, the tension that pulses from her wrinkled forehead.

Cordelia bows her head sympathetically when she mentions a break, some fresh air. Understanding sits on her smile, though her own break involves heading to the kitchen for a steaming mug of hot coffee.

The idea of anything warm on a day like this churns Misty’s stomach. Before she heads out in a world far better suited for her, she chugs an icy glass of water and cherishes the cold pinch down her throat. Parting ways with Cordelia brings her onto plush grass blades and beckoned by the whistling of wind. It’s not quite the swamp, but it’ll do. In just a few hours since the morning, the garden has changed its cloak from the damp of dawn to a sun baked display. She walks past the spot where she’d saved the bird, and smiles. Just as easily as that comes, her peripherals catch the fence spire that had impaled Zoe. Said smile swoops down with the speed of a falcon, remaining rigidly in that position. Azure eyes follow the length of that fence, the dark and sharp railings. It surrounds the entire Academy, keeps the foliage barely contained inside; she’s certain that the entire construct is there for protection, to keep evil and terrible things from entering these walls. Yet Fiona had so easily surpassed them, so how effective can they be?

If anything, their pretty guise is only to cover the menace of their height, a foreboding size. And Misty can’t shake off the feeling that it’s trapping the people within rather than keeping bad forces out.

She resists to burn in her fingers, the way she wants to tear then down and remove a barrier between them and. . .and what? Blinking, she absorbs the life outside in her innocence. Fresh air is drawn in like water through tree roots – the very rawness of life welcomed within her lungs.

She hums under her breath with that new burst of air, songs that bring a warmth to her heart. As she walks, fingertips brush the length of any plant kind enough to reach out to her. Which turns out, is an awful lot of them – from spiked and serrated textures to feather soft stems that are delightful to the touch. Misty smiles, continues her parade around the garden and leaves responsibilities in her shadow’s presence instead.

As beautiful as this place is, she misses the utter wildness of her old home, the unpredictability of each shoot and stem that grew in the great race of life.

Her ears strain for the cicadas’ chorus, but retrieves nothing other than a distant bird song and the tremble of traffic.

It brings this unpleasant twist of her features, draws just the cusp of discontent. Then, as if aware of her inner turmoil, she feels the brush of velvet fur against her leg. Eyebrows rising, she admires the owner; a dark haired cat that swivels on the spot and butts her with its head from the other direction.

Without thinking, she is sinking down to her knees and offering out a hand for the creature to investigate. “Why hey there.” Misty smiles, earning not only approval, but a wet nose and thick whiskers press into her palm. “Aw, you’re real cute.”

She offers a long stroke, then a toothy smile, as the cat stretches into her fingers and demands more attention. It chirps in her direction, chest buzzing with purrs the ground her in the same way thunder does.

As the cat lifts its head happily, eyes open to reveal a mesmerising orange glow, she stares, and it starts right back. “Where did you come from, huh?” Her pointer finger scratches the indent of its forehead, eliciting a trigger of those happy vibrations. As if able to understand her words, it tilts its potent gaze up towards the house. She nods quickly. “Oh, you live here?”

She doesn’t recall seeing a cat, or the mention of one, but between dying, being resurrected, and then becoming the Supreme, she’s been kind of busy.

A grin sits plainly on her lips. “I bet you’re Cordelia’s – a pretty cat like you. A pretty little girl. . .” Pupils travel downwards, where she notices something rather not ladylike. “Or guy.” Chuckling at herself, she continues her ministrations. “I hope you don’t mind me livin’ here too. Guess you’re probably used to that, people comin’ and going.”

Just how busy is the revolving door of girls? The latest one to exit being Madison, out of mere spite that she’d lost at her prize. Just where she is, Misty doesn’t know. She does wonder, but any chance of redemption for Madison lies spiked with the idea that she’d killed Misty so carelessly. That she’d wanted this role so bad.

A role that Misty would off hand to someone more deserving without a second thought. Radiant health, impressive powers – they are things that she never asked for. Things she doesn’t particularly need. The people more suited for such gifts have nothing but desks dull of responsibility, and that is enough to tease out another sigh in Misty. That seems to be all she can do recently; sigh and huff our her displeasure like some overworked chimney.

The cat stands taller, lifting onto back legs and athletically reaching up along the length of her leg. As sunlight trickles through the fur, darkness transforms with the hint of a burnt orange. Mewling, the creature uses her to arch its back, only for another sight to hold its attention.

This being the flapping of wings, an airborne prey that heads toward a nearby nest in the trees that loom over the spires.

Just as quickly as the cat had come to her, it follows the new sight of interest. Skulking, low and with a trill of concentration. Misty doesn’t need to be a genius to know where this is headed and soon has eyes narrowing in expectancy.

No.

She finds the word echoed in her head, not quite making the journey past pink lips. As such, she makes to speak again, to solidify it

Only, the cat has already turned. Ears twitch, twist, and those widened pupils watch her as though entranced. Had she spoken? “Come on,” she gestures with her hand, “leave the bird alone – I’ll find ya somethin’ to eat.” She begins to head back from the house, to shade and the other girls.

When she turns slightly to glance over her shoulder, she spies the cat hot on her tail. It walks obediently, tail erect and tickling her leg as it scoots past just at the screen door.

Before she returns inside, she watches the unharmed bird, volleys eyes over to the cat, then smiles.

Her smile widens when she realizes lunch is ready.

...

“His name is Tchaikovsky.” Cordelia announces when Misty asks about said cat not much later that evening. “He comes and goes, really – and yes, he is a fiend when it comes to bringing in half dead animals.”

Misty winces.

As if able to sense such a reaction, Cordelia offers a sympathetic sigh. “Yeah, that’s cats for you.”

“Least I can save them,” Misty decides, relief evident in her tone.

The two continue walking slowly through the halls, headed toward the greenhouse by Cordelia’s request. All too happy to oblige, Misty keeps close to her side and searches for any hazards on the way.

Not exactly a hazard, but they do encounter Queenie under stacks of books. Misty frowns, questions pushing at the inside of her lips, and one tumbles out. “What are they for?” It’s the intensity in Queenie’s gaze that gives her a weird feeling, has her narrowing pupils.

Halting, the girl frowns. “Just stuff.”

“That’s an awful lotta books.”

Aided only by words, Cordelia tilts her head and sighs out. “Queenie, if this is about Nan – ”

“Someone’s gotta care about her.” The girl all but snaps and carries on with hurry in her pace.

It is Cordelia who calls after her, not Misty. After all, the Cajun feels rather out of the loop; Nan is a character she barely remembers meeting, one who vanished before her own death.

Still, the emotion practically pours out of Queenie, and that has Misty picking Cordelia’s brain about it.

“It was Fiona.” She says, as regretful as she can be. Guilt ridden, if her slumping shoulder are anything to go by. “She killed her, an innocent girl – just like she would have killed all of us.” Shame is usurped by the fierce flames of fury, “I can’t believe she got away with so much. I was supposed to protect these girls, you know?”

Misty breathes out her understanding.

“I couldn’t protect Nan, I couldn’t protect you, even Zoe would have been gone if you hadn’t brought her back. I just – I feel like Fiona was bad, terrible, but I was just as worse.”

The very idea has Misty reeling, reaching out to take hold of Cordelia’s hands with a head shake. “Hey – ”

“She was strong and I was weak; that’s all she needed.”

“You’re not weak.”

Cordelia lifts her head, sniffles, and though she can’t see beneath the glasses, Misty senses tears. It makes her heartstrings pinch, has her sweeping closer.

She studies Cordelia in this proximity, follows the freckles on her skin, the crease in her forehead, the quiver in her lips. Sure, maybe someone could take that as a weakness, a fault, but the tallest and most powerful trees creak beneath the battering of the wind. They still stand, don’t they? They persist and relent, protecting the world beneath.

When she looks to Cordelia, she doesn’t see weakness. She sees just that, one of those wizened and lasting trees, defiant to what the earth throws its way. Misty wishes she could be like that, but she stands merely a sapling at the roots.

“Misty, you don’t – ”

“I’m not just sayin’ it to make you feel better. Ain’t no point in lyin’, is there?” She squeezes Cordelia’s hand. “So do me a favor and don’t say stuff like that about yourself, okay?”

And yeah, there’s heaviness about them, a terrible weight, the two carry it dutifully on their shoulders. Cordelia even manages something close to a smile. “Is that an order?” Lips spread wider, teasing.

It catches Misty off guard, and she likes it.

Her own mouth pucker playfully. “Yeah.” She nods. “Maybe it is.”

“Okay.”

Her tone is awfully sweet, enough to give a serious amount of cavities. As Misty melts before it, she bows her head almost shyly and then spots their joined hands. Pulse spiking, she makes to pull hers away, only for Cordelia’s to hold on with that more determination.

When she looks to her in question, answers come easily. “I want to see for a little bit longer.”

“See what?”

Cordelia's rare gift sure has her enthralled, smiling, and relaxing all of her muscles as her hands are very simply held.

A simple action or not, it brings about it this convoluted and forceful mix of feelings, one’s that she doesn’t recognize or understand, and so merely gapes toward her.

They do ease apart, eventually. Hands lulled away in a slow manner, but still remaining close. She doesn’t remember ever being like this with someone, ever feeling so accepted in a matter of days. Relationships have evaded her, like everyone else speaks another language she’ll never be able to wrap her tongue around. But Cordelia, she. . .she floats over the lines of translation with an ease that Misty envies.

“What did ya see this time?”

“The swamps.” Cordelia shrugs. “Your home.” A long pause, tangible thoughts in the air that dance about like fireflies. “Do you miss it?”

Misty shrugs. “I guess - don’t miss bein’ alone though.”

“You have us now.”

Four small words are enough to bring a lump to her throat, meaning more than maybe Cordelia realizes.

At the whim of her own emotion, Misty finds where tears tickle her eyes. A common occurrence; her emotions ready to feel at a moment’s notice. She feels the sweep of arms around her, a body drawing her in nearer. She is just taller than Cordelia, yet still is nestled against her. The embrace is warm, welcome; not the first time she’s found herself held in this touch, and she is suddenly hoping that it’s certainly not the last.

Resting her chin on Cordelia’s shoulder, she sighs out and closes her eyes. This, this is nice. This is warm beaches and dense, flowery fields – life, birth, a fresh beginning. All of it exudes from Cordelia, so she hugs her as near as she can.

“Misty?” she hears whispered against her mass of hair.

“Hmm?”

An audible gulp, then the shudder of a breath. “I’m sorry that I never found you before. . .before they hurt you. When I saw what had happened – I remember how sick I felt. I just. . .the thought of you suffering, hurt. . .you’re right, I should have found you.”

But she didn’t.

“You don’t gotta apologise.”

“I – ”

Beginning to pull away, albeit with reluctance, she smiles sadly at the blonde. “Let’s just make sure it doesn’t happen to any other girls.”

Cordelia nods instantly, determination settling onto her features much in the way it does Misty’s.

The trample of footsteps ruins the calm they’ve harvested, and has the two directing heads towards the door. Zoe stands there, grave and pale faced. “Hey, you need to – oh, am I interrupting?”

“Huh?”

Misty stands confused at the question, but Zoe’s attention has moved to where hands sit on forearms and vice versa.

“What is wrong?” Cordelia pushes.

“The TV. You need to come, now.”

They follow the frazzled girl through the corridors, past the imposing portraits of past Supremes, to where Kyle, Myrtle and Queenie stand gathered around the television set and all wear similar expressions of concerns as they watch the events unfold.

“It seems Madison was true to her words.” Myrtle announces.

“What do you mean?” Cordelia frowns, slowly letting go of Misty’s hand that had led her this way, and stepping closer to her mentor.

Following those trepid steps, Misty has eyes honed in on the screen until they ache, until breath matures with stagnancy in her chest. That brings a tightness, only exacerbated by the sight of Madison in front of her. Alongside a man she doesn’t recognize, in some fancy suit with perfectly styled hair. “So wait, what you’re saying is there are witches? Real, life witches?” He has barely disguised amusement, even if he tries to act the part of serious and invested.

“You bet there is. A full house of them.’

“Witches with broomsticks and black cats?”

Madison glares, but keeps her usual rage kept within. Leaning closer, she smiles in this wicked manner and speaks solemnly. “Witches with powers strong enough to control people, to make them forget what they’ve done. And I’m telling you now, these witches are fucking dangerous. . .and I know exactly where they live.”

At that final sentence, Misty feels her heart plummet right beneath her feet, maybe even lower. It leaves this spacious cavern in her chest, enough for fear and panic to make a nice home.

And she wants to run, just like she had done when chased away from her cabin.

Just as that thought begins to spring, she blinks and turns, and finds people watching her. Looking to her. Waiting. Waiting for her to lead them.

Shit.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Oh damn, oh damn, what are we gonna do?

Her sister's panic can be felt a mile off, coating the air like the thick black smoke of factories pollutes the sky. She drops down to her knees besides Misty where the frantic nine year old sits. In front of her, a lifeless body. Hair rattled, soaked, and water clinging to the skin like blanket weed clutches onto nearby rocks.

Misty doesn’t hear Gracie's words, not when there’s blood drumming in her ears.

She is pushed out of the way by the younger girl, “move.” Hands shake the form. “Ellie, come on, wake up. This ain’t funny now.”

Nothing.

Misty can’t find any words, paralyzed by fear and this awfully weird burning sensation. As though someone has lit a stack of dry kindling in her tummy and blows out the wisps to her fingertips.

“Why did you tell her to come with us?” The accusing follows sooner after, “she’s just a kid.”

“I didn’t know she couldn’t swim!”

She shoulders her sister out of the way to get to the little girl, finding horror eating at her insides when she spies the lack of chest movement, the draining of color from her face. And they may be surrounded by the familiar tang of the swamps, a buzz and scent that she knows well.

But something else crawls up her nose, sticks to her like some insistent fly. Her nose scrunches up, panic holding hands now with confusion.

“What’s that smell?”

Gracie whips her head around towards Misty, who is using the back of her hand to squish her nostrils closed. “Jeez, what are you talkin’ about? That’s just the plants, dummy.”

“I – ”

“We need Momma, we. . .she – I don’t think she’s okay. . .oh Misty, what are we gonna do?”

...

“What the fuck are we gonna do?”

This is Queenie’s voice now, not her sister's; yet just as panicked and unsure, figuratively knocked from whatever firm footing they’ve created in these past few days

Said security appears gone, dismantled board by board beneath them, and Misty desperately searches for safe anchor in the nearby surroundings. It’s so similar, that sting in her chest, the thievery of feeling from her hands. Yet, different. Before, there’d been an adult to run to, desperately hoping for help and aid, and knowledge far beyond their years.

Now, Misty doesn’t have any fucking clue what their plan of action ought to be, but nor does she have an adult to desperately put her faith in.

“I can’t believe her!” Zoe announces, scorned by selfish actions, “she’s so butthurt that she isn’t the Supreme that she’d. . .she’d hurt us.”

“Unfortunately, young Madison is ruled by a tirade of emotions. Mostly of them horrid things.”

Queenie winces, “yeah, and now she’s telling the whole of America exactly where they can start their next witch hunt. Get ready for the torches, bitches.”

“You don’t know what’s going to happen.” Myrtle offers, “after all, she has no proof for these claims, not without exposing herself along with us.”

“Surely, they’re going to realize she was part of this, too. Isn’t it an awfully big coincidence if her parents just happened to put her in a boarding school that’s inhabited by witches?”

“We are fucked.”

“Queenie.”

“There are five of us, one blind – no offence Cordelia, and one old, and three of us have been dead within the past week.”

“That isn’t helping.”

She throws up her hands in annoyance, “it is the truth, and if you think that I went through getting shot by your fucked up ex only to be killed by another pathetic witch hunter, you got another thing coming.”

Myrtle makes a noise, aghast and irritated, “stop this negativity at once!”

“But what if people show up here?” The baton is handed to Zoe, who takes who turn to switch up the heat on her panic.

Behind her, Kyle is hovering with a hand over her arm protectively and offering his deepest frown. “I won’t let them in here.” He insists, eyes hardening, searching for a purpose.

“Oh, that’s enough.”

“But – ”

The three start in earnest, wearing varying shades of concern, of eagerness to be drama free. Not possible in this house, apparently. How is it that Madison is pulling the strings thousands of miles away? Misty understands the need to protect themselves, to protect what little they have. It’s only natural, isn’t it? When resources are scarce, it is inevitable that they become more precious, revered.

As Misty peers around at the group, she sees strangers, people – do they aggregate here out of friendship, joy, or is it merely the only stronghold to avoid their demise? After all, she ran here when she had nowhere else to go, didn’t she?

What did Misty find in this place? Their final stand, it seems. Betrayal and deceit, and all the things that made her hide away in her cabin for so long. Yet there’s good, too; the best sides of people, in caring, in protection. A common cause, a goal. Maybe it is just survival, but hey should surviving have to be such a lonely thing?

She tightens the muscles around her mouth, catching eyes with all of these women.

Strangers or not, they are in this together, and that brings with it a special kind of loyalty. Even if it is does feel like the blind leading the blind (quite literally, in one case).

Misty doesn’t let the other girls continue with the protests. Honestly? She’s got enough of her own demons to belittle what good she can come up with. She doesn’t need others orchestrated in that. Misty rushes over to the tv, turning the blasted television off. “Look, arguin’ ain’t gonna get us anywhere.”

“Oh yeah,” Queenie folded her arms across her chest and squints her eyes, “and what exactly do you suggest that we do?”

“I. . .”

“Listening to Stevie Knicks isn’t gonna get us out of this, swamp girl.”

“Hey!”

That berating doesn’t stem from Misty, even if her nostrils flare with anger (more ‘cause a part of her does wish she was still in the secluded walls of her music filled cabin). Instead, Cordelia is the one to send the room into quiet.

All turn to look at her, and the woman stiffens. “Girls, I know that this is. . .rather stressful, but Misty is your Supreme – ”

Her words continue much the same, with notions such as respect, order, and Misty is weighted down by discomfort the entire time.

“We need to figure out what we’re gonna do.” Misty insists, cutting across that speech that she’s not sure she one hundred percent agrees with.

“Misty is right – this mindless bickering won’t get us anywhere.” Myrtle huffs out her disapproval, paces about the room. “It seems Madison is ready to drag us all down with her.”

“You really think people are gonna believe her?” Misty poses the question, a deep frown solidifying on her lips.

She thinks of her own past, the refusal to trust these extraordinary things happening to her to be magic; they’d been nothing but the devil’s touch in the eyes of her family.

Myrtle sets these piercing eyes directly at her. “You know better than anyone those who persecute our kind.” Misty gulps, and tries to suppress her own horrid memories. “They need no rhyme or reason, my dear.”

“What if they try to hurt us?” She asks, even if she supposes that it ought to be her answering that question.

Isn’t it, after all, her job now to stop any of the girls getting hurt? Truth is, she can’t even protect herself. The closest she’s got to helping others is drawing lives back from the afterlife once the hurting has already occurred.

A shiver runs down her spine, this insidious little thing, only to hide when fingers brush over her arm. In her rising sea of thoughts, Misty hadn’t noticed Cordelia creeping closer. There is no denying her presence now, a stronghold like the thick air before a storm. She peers at her, and smiles.

Only to realize that it can’t be seen, so that very notion is placed in the delicate way she lays her own hand over Cordelia’s. Instantly, the older blonde smiles.

How strange a sight it may be, the two of them stood together and smiling despite the fact that their very existence might be exposed to the ignorant masses. Yet they do, and the balloon of pressure inside of Misty lessens.

She looks to Cordelia curiously, then, wondering if one of her gifts is to soak up anxiety like roots sponge water from the earth.

“Well,” Queenie begins again, growing with impatience. “What is the plan? I am not waiting for people to show up and drag us to the bonfire.”

Misty visibly winces.

The hand on her squeezes and comforts, and she notices how Myrtle glances just for a moment. Regardless, Cordelia is already speaking to the room. “Can we talk,” she begins, then her neck twitches slightly and she seems to remember they’re not alone, “in private?”

Misty nods keenly. “Y – yeah, sure.”

“Wait, what is so important that you can’t share it with us?”

“Girls.”

“Cordelia, I’m being serious.”

“Come on, my dears, let them talk.” Myrtle has swooped in, lifting a hand to touch either of their shoulders and maybe attempt to ease their fraying nerves. If their expressions are anything to go by, it certainly doesn’t work. Yet both remain silent.

And gives the opportunity for the two of them to leave, following a nod for Myrtle. It comes alongside a grave tug of her lips, where suddenly more aged and worried lines sit. “Lead me,” Cordelia asks gently.

Misty does, even if it’s awfully like she isn’t leading at all.

They end up in the greenhouse, no surprise there. Normally, the mere sights and vibrancy of the plant life would have Misty calmed; breathing instantly shallowed and steadied. Today, the life brings no such offering. The plants are loud, distracting, but not as much as the woman who leans her body against the workbench and sighs.

Already, Misty stares to her with widened eyes and a pain in her chest, “Cordelia.”

“Yeah, it’s bad.” She agrees. “I always knew Madison was somewhat of a live wire, but I didn’t think she’d ever do something like this. . .”

“I mean, she killed me.”

Cordelia’s head lifts, lips parting slightly. She ignores that rather true statement and instead focuses where maybe the focus ought to be. “So. . .”

She echoes the tremor that Cordelia tries to hide. “So.”

“A busy first week, huh?”

Maybe there is humor there, so strange coming from Cordelia of all people; always so serious, so grave, and certainly the last person to be pushing mirth into their conversation. “Cordelia.” She says, strained.

“Looks like we have a decision to make.”

But how?

“I ain’t so good at makin’ decisions.”

She bows her head, maybe sympathetic, but Cordelia doesn’t maintain that for long. “You’ll get practise.”

Misty sighs, oh so forlornly. Is this her life now? The decisions that no one else can make?

But Cordelia had said we and not you, and that is so much better.

“We’re in danger.” She states, no stranger to this.

The woman before her nods.

“And what now?”

She’s really hoping for a response here, as the very idea of action has her brain ever so blank. Misty knows where her talents lie, the extent of her powers. Sure, a couple of hunters are no problem for her gift, but now they target the unknown. A faceless enemy who could strike at any moment; how can they know what is to come? Unless, of course, you’re Cordelia, with a sight that many would envy.

That’s why Misty gazes at her as thought she holds the entire universe in her touch.

The same fingers smooth over the dusted workbench and then slow. “I think there’s really one of two options that we have here, and I’m not sure which is best.”

Misty’s gave burns into her ever so stubbornly, breath stalled.

“We could lay low,” Cordelia begins, “keep out of the public eye. But who knows how long it would take for all of this to fizzle out, if it does at all – Madison is rather good at kicking up a fuss, it seems.”

“But. . .”

Cordelia tilts her head to the side. “But?”

Drawn nearer, Misty tiptoes close and makes to stand right next to Cordelia. Both face forward, the curve of their backs digging into the edge.

“They could still find us.” She worries her lower lip, “still show up here.”

She falls silent, pensive.

It isn’t irregular for Cordelia to do this, to adopt a contemplation within that the others merely have to wait to here. Something the others aren’t always prepared to listen, but Misty – Misty is stood here willing anytime.

Especially today, when she so eagerly hopes there could be some sense to the whirlpool of a mess they’re in. “I just want everyone to be safe,” Misty announces when the quiet becomes too much. She wants to be safe. Death maybe play a protagonist’s role in her life, but she’s not ready for it again, not yet.

“There’s always going to be someone that wants to hurt us.” A grim announcement, but unfortunately true.

Misty’s head hangs sadly. “Why can’t we just live in peace?”

Dry laughter pushes through. “I thought we did, for a little while. Before Fiona came back – boy, was I wrong.”

What had life been like before Fiona? From the sounds of it, Cordelia had been busy beyond belief, in some listless marriage, and spending her time keeping the place under wraps. In teaching the girls that their powers ought to be hidden, or at least that’s the vibe that Misty has gotten from their conversations.

Which is why Cordelia's next choice of words utterly surprise her.

“There is a second option.”

“Oh yeah?”

She nods. “We – we go public ourselves; after all, Madison has done half the work.”

“What?”

Her sigh says that she’d been expecting that reaction. “I know you want to run.”

“I – ”

“I can see it. When I touched you before. . .”

Misty jumps away on reflex, shock pushing onto her pale features. She glances at the gap now between her and Cordelia, a cold barrier, and then her heart sinks as she realizes Cordelia now frowns. A sorrowed thing that brings sadness on wings to the room. “Sorry,” she mutters, “I just – I feel like a coward, but I’m scared, Cordelia. I’m real frightened, an’ the idea of you seein’ that makes me. . .it makes me. . .”

“Look, I’ll try not to – ”

“No.” Misty surges back in, and here she finds Cordelia’s touch again.

“Misty, I understand. The other girls are the same – I know. . .how intrusive it can be, that you have things you don’t want me to see.”

“I told you,” Misty begins to backpedal rather quickly, “I don’t got nothin’ to hide.” Maybe. She’d always thought herself an open book, but what if there is invisible ink on some of those pages?

Her return seems to have revitalised Cordelia in a way, something she’s glad for. “You have a right to be scared, Misty.”

She blinks, and lets breath flutter from her parted lips; the plants around them appear to sigh in support.

“No one is judging anyone for being scared, it’s only natural.” Pausing, the softens gains density of steel. “But running away isn’t the answer.”

Now, the almighty pressure is guilt consumes her. “Every time I fight, somethin’ bad happens to me. Now that I think about it. . .runnin’ has never helped much either.”

“Misty.”

“You don’t gotta feel sorry for me. I just – how is it fair? Kinda feel like I’m cursed sometimes.”

This cloud passes over Cordelia’s face, “yeah, I’m familiar with that feeling.” Then, all too keenly, it’s taken away, “and let me tell you, it is really tempting to sit and drown in the miser of it all, but it doesn’t make anything better. This place ended up being a place that I could hide from Fiona, for a while at least – she wasn’t interested in the girls, in the Coven. Yet she came back; your troubles always find you, Misty.”

Once again, a certainly woeful statement from the apparent keeper of misery. Cordelia is a strange creature, all hardened and cold sometimes. But there’s good there, warmth. Misty has seen it, how she loves even without asking for it back – very much a thankless taste.

And certainly no one has seemed grateful for it yet.

“You think what then? We should just announce that we’re here.” Misty quivers at the very idea. “Tell the world that Madison is right?”

“Not exactly a word I’d want to use for her,” Cordelia says, “but maybe we can make something good out of this.”

“Good?”

Ultimately perplexed by how this can be turned around, Misty gapes over at the woman. Oh, and she's certainly thinking. As she does, the sadness seeps from her body and a firm set determination sits.

“Fiona was right, too. I’d just sit in these greenhouse with my potions and plants, hiding away from the world.” Cordelia tugs in a sigh, “what if it’s time to stop hiding?”

Even as she speaks, her fear is evident. Misty can taste every drop of it. “People could hurt us, Cordelia.”

“They already do.”

That has her silenced. Quiet or not, she peers at Cordelia thoughtfully, all now convinced that she’s sought the right guidance. Who may or may not have another adventurous plan laid out for them.

She brushes up to her side, maybe comforted by her presence. Somehow, just wanting to be closer. There are many aspects of Cordelia that someone could appraise, far beyond the physical sense. Misty stares and admires her for her thoughts and feelings that brew in the woman. Such a force, a quiet tempest, but a storm nonetheless.

“You really think that’ll work?”

“What do we have to lose, Misty? Like everyone says, there’s only a few of us left.”

She bites her tongue for just a second, then nods, “we can either run and disappear, or we can stand strong.”

Cordelia smiles as the idea is accepted with dwindling difficulty. “Together.” She says.

Suddenly, she finds that she’s holding onto her hand. Any fears of Cordelia seeing her trepidation are gone; she can witness it and then some, ‘cause turns out she know just the right way to handle it.

“Together,” Misty repeats, enjoying the warmth of their joined hands, the sensation of something bigger than the both of them and yet, their own, personal little agreement. Amidst all that, there is a shift inside of her. Not fear, not nerves, something else.

The longer she peers at Cordelia, the more powerful it becomes, especially as Cordelia’s smile grows wider.

“So,” she throws herself into distraction, “how exactly do ya say we do this?

“Hm, well I think you’re gonna have to go on TV.”

That lovely budding feeling dies out as though a sapling trodden on by a heavy, lead lined boot. Her eyes widen, heart spasms, and she chokes on her own words. “Me? In one of those televisions?”

Her outrage is met with something unexpected; the melodic free fall of laughter from Cordelia’s lips. Maybe she hasn’t been paying much attention, or maybe it’s the first time she’s heard Cordelia truly laugh, but something about it has to frozen and staring delightfully.

That is, until Cordelia brings insistences that they return to the others. She nods, knowing they ought to, that they deserve to know.

“Lead me,” Cordelia gently asks again.

Misty is by her side in a second. “Yes ma’am.”

 

 

Chapter Text

She doesn’t like it; this flurry of people about her. Not the calm freefall of snowflakes, but an unruly blizzard that Misty finds herself in the very middle of. Frostbite snaps at her in the form of nerves, in hands that clutch and smooth out the hem of her dress where they can make contact.

In the sea of bobbing heads that she can’t place, she searches for something familiar just as a bird searches the skies for a landmark.

Spotting Myrtle, she hurries toward her. “’Cuse me ma'am,” Misty gently brushes past a nearby woman clad in this weird looking headpiece and holding a radio to her lips. A military regime if she ever saw one, orders barked, delegated.

Despite such, there is a buzz in the air that surpasses the usual magic that lives in the walls. This is the vibration of excitement, intrigue.

Some people stop to stand and admire the architecture, the antique furniture that holds stories of witches past. Not that Misty knows any of those; maybe Cordelia would. Maybe she’ll ask her for stories. Some lighthearted little tales that might keep a smile to her lips.

“Misty, there you are.” Myrtle greets her at the far side of the room, where the foreboding wall of portraits hangs – dark, ominous, creepy. Icy eyes and steely stares. All strong women, or so it seems, and yet all gone.

She tries to place her own face amongst them, and cringes at the very idea. Not that she isn’t strong. She’s just not. . .not. . .them.

A hand finds her shoulder, brings her in closer, “quote the stir, it seems.”

Blinking around at the people, she gives a vacant nod.

“I guess.”

“This is a historic moment for our Coven – from the shadows we rise and step into the sunshine! Oh, how glad I am to witness this.”

That enthusiasm may bubble away, try to infect Misty, but she’s steadily maturing her own mix of nerves. Perhaps the sun might be about to tiptoe in their direction – that sought after light could bring clarity, a better sense of direction, or it could just burn. Misty knows a thing or two about burning.

Digging her nails into her palms, she grounds herself momentarily and nods. “With modern times, we need to hurtle into the present and shake the cobwebs that plague us. Why, reinvention is just the ticket. Look at what happened to me after my own demise. Back, but far, far better.” The gloating that Myrtle shifts to is a color Misty struggles with. Her Daddy had taught her never to be boastful; after all, the Lord could take away just as easily as he gifts.

So maybe her smile strains, and perhaps she wiggles a little out of Myrtle’s touch. She can’t fully escape, not yet. Even if there are too many cameras to count now facing one chair in the main reception room.

Gulping, she eyes that spot. Reserved for one and only.

Eyes are averted just as quickly, back to Myrtle. Unfortunately, the woman spots some curious cameraman poking at flowery vases and all but spasms on the spot. “Those are antiques from the 19th century, that absolute swine, I – ” With the chaotic and somehow elegant take off of a swan, she is in their tail and saving the items of the household.

Misty, once more, is by herself. Just as the press take a keen shining to the rooms of the Academy, her own interest sits heavily at the forefront of her mind.

An unattended set of equipment coaxes her nearer, where she idly brushes the very tips of her fingers over them. Unlike the world she’s accustom to, it is all hard to touch, unyielding; she wonders how anyone could partnership with such an item. Then again, everyone seems to comfortable, so natural, as they lug them around. Full cameras over shoulders, an extension of themselves. So strange, this robotic world, and she floats through it while ignoring any strange looks which may come her way.

Misty isn’t a fool. She can see how those pupils drag the length of her outfit; a mismatched affair of blacks, greens, oranges where the lacy material of her skirt stops just at her ankles. Around her arms, she has satin ties, cotton bracelets and charms. Even a ribbon she’d found when emptying Fiona’s wardrobe with Cordelia’s help.

The other woman hadn’t seen, nor had Misty felt the need to mention it, but the small and near stretch of purple fabric. Spotted right in the corner, abandoned along moth balls and spiders, it’d called out to Misty. She’d listened, oh how she always listens.

Since then, it’s been wrapped on around wrist with a secure knot, and exists in a sort of comforting manner.

Misty listens to her instincts again now, sees what they ask of her. They seek reassurance elsewhere. She’s no stranger to a bout of insecurities, acute in nature. Crippling, almost, until they’re drowned out with music or sitting in the long grasses of the swamp, or even replacing those voices with the chirping of cicadas.

Today, rather than those things, she finds eyes anticipating the sight of something else. Someone else.

In her vision or not, she can feel her. Everyone, actually. Though her pale blur eyes, she spies auras and energies, senses magic where she always has. Life, that goes without saying; life is just as loud as death is. And this room is deafening.

Led by her search, she is removed from the fancy set up of gadgets and muttering producers, and instead carried to a calmer area where few have ventured.

As she turns the corner, her lips twitch on reflex then spread wider. They used to do that, she remembers, upon any old encounter with people. You ought to smile at people – they mean company and friendship, loyalty, tribe. A smile goes a long way, her Daddy had always said

Too bad it doesn’t. Smiles don’t make friends, or keep them, anyway.

She smiles at Cordelia either way, a woman who can’t even see that action. Maybe that makes it more special. A secret smile, that Cordelia can’t set eyes upon. If only she could. If there was ever one person she wishes could see her smile, it would be Cordelia.

“An’ here I thought I was gonna be the one hidin’ from all the people,” Misty observes from the door of the woman’s office.

Cordelia jumps, hand bumping into an aloe vera plant and sending it askew. Lunging forward, Misty catches it within her clammy palms and returns it to the desk. In the shuffle, she ends up much nearer to Cordelia.

No steps back are taken.

As she recovers from her surprise, Cordelia wears a subtle hue of pink to her cheeks. Still, her voice is assured as she speaks, “I’m not hiding.”

Her own voice is a far cry from matching that tone, and instead chimes with fret. Unlike the smile, she hopes Cordelia can’t catch it.

“They’re gonna start soon, I think.” Her heart beats a little faster.

“About time,” she scoffs, “they’ve been setting up for hours.”

Misty shakes her head with an unsure tug at her mouth. “They said somethin’ about lightin’. . .I dunno, I wasn’t really payin’ much attention.”

Does her reluctance push through? Does it hold the clarity of the finest diamond?

Merely humming, Cordelia leaves a long pause between the two. There she goes again, offering an open pause. Misty hates silence; the lack of noise, life, anything. She despises it just as much as a good soul taken too soon from this world.

Silence, as it stands, invites too much in. Just like a black hole, the voids sucks anything nearby into its gravity. Including Misty, who speaks hurriedly in an attempt to rid them of the quiet. “Well, guess there’s no goin’ back now, is there?” She blinks slowly and allows a gulp a gradual descent down her throat. “The whole world is gonna know.”

Cordelia relaxes in spite of the severity of the conversation, folding arms across her chest. “Hm.”

“Hm?” Hers is more drawn, probing.

Twisting her neck toward Misty, she sighs. “A few days ago, I’d think the two of us mad for doing this. I – I’ve tried to keep this Coven hidden for so long, stifled the girls and their powers. . .”

She nods slowly, “you were just tryna protect them.” Just as her own parents had done all those years ago, before she’d fled in pursuit of something close to freedom.

Ironically enough, she's never felt more trapped. By herself, her heavy thoughts. Sure, Misty is used to sitting and thinking and pondering the great mysteries of the world, but this anxiety is an unwelcome acquaintance. “I never thought that all this would happen. I was content,” Cordelia sighs, “just making my potions and being a mediocre teacher. I knew the way, the routine; just the right things to keep the girls grounded.” The glasses on her face are readjusted, reflecting UV light blindingly back at Misty. “I thought I was making a difference in their lives.”

Misty watches her carefully, inches closer without thought. “You did.”

“I – ”

“You gave them a family, or close enough to one.”

Cordelia scoffs, “that’s nice of you to say Misty, but we both know it isn’t true.” Before any of that can be negated, she heaves in a deep breath. “I suppose we best go back, don’t you think?”

Misty grounds her feet that little more. “We got a few more minutes. . .” She says. Hopes.

“It’s okay if you’re nervous.” A hand may reach out, technically blind, but somehow finding Misty’s with not a single problem posed. They stand like that, holding hands, and Misty certainly thinks she’d prefer this to returning to that loud, loud world outside.

Cordelia frowns. “You’re shaking.” The genuine surprise leads her to lift her other, just as gentle hand and rest it on Misty’s shoulder.

“I, uh, I don’t do so good around people. Everyone lookin’ at me. . .” Misty clears her throat, lets her pupils skitter over nearby surfaces without the time to really take in the sights. “Makes me feel all weird.”

Eyes, so many eyes. Just like in the classroom, like every time someone has looked down at her and called her a freak.

The eyes are the window to the soul, that’s what people say. An invitation where words lie redundant and gazes rein supreme. The good and the bad lie within but, for some reason, she only ever seems to sense the bad. The hesitations, the regrets. That’s what she sees when she looks in people's eyes. And, mostly, all she’s ever seen is people who think there’s something wrong with her.

She swallows the sudden lump in her throat, taps fingers in a rhythm over her skin. A familiar one, with the song played deep in the reserves on her brain. Beating just as her heart does.

The shaking slows, her energy pushed into the tapping. As ever, the music, a solo playing for her, calms at the edges of her soul first, and then slinks further in.

Misty sighs, lips remaining parted and drying out the end or her tongue. Words, too, run dry in this moment.

Thankfully, Cordelia hasn’t quite gone thoughtless. “I wish there was a choice,” she bobs her head. Peering up at Cordelia, Misty doesn’t see staring eyes back, but instead just sees the woman in full. A mentor, a friend. “But I believe in you.”

She gives Misty’s shoulder a soft squeeze, offers this tender smile. This appearance of this Cordelia is always welcome, the wave of calm an antithesis to her usually stiff and harrowing words.

Misty is shifting without thinking, arms curling around the woman in a slow movement. Though unexpected, the hug is returned by Cordelia, who tightens her touch and all but sighs into Misty's hair. “I’ll be there the entire time.” She mumbles, volume perhaps prompted by the fact Misty is squeezing her chest pretty hard.

“You promise?”

A pause, followed with the lightest of laughter. She likes the rare occasion that she elicits it from Cordelia. “Of course. And we practiced what to say, remember?”

“What if it all falls outta my head?”

Half joking (but not really joking at all), she gives her own teetering smile and bumpy breaths, and thinks maybe a bucketful of reassurances wouldn’t go amiss.

But Cordelia doesn’t have any of those. Instead, she hardens like freshly poured concrete in a blistering sun. “Misty, you need to be strong.”

She doesn’t feel it.

“You are the Supreme now.”

She doesn’t want to be.

Just as all concrete does every, the early signs of cracks begin to show on Cordelia’s expression. “You have to believe in yourself.”

To the others, she’d agree. She’d put on a brave face, just like she’s always been taught to. But this is Cordelia, and she can see through her lies with sight or none.

So, she deflates a little. “I’m tryin’.”

That is spoken right near Cordelia’s ear, almost like a promise, and those arms around her loop tighter. She melts into the hug for all its worth, finding comfort in those actions. Cordelia is just slightly smaller, enough for her to comfortably lay her chin on the woman’s shoulder and nuzzle her nose into her hair.

Closeness is something she’s always sought, inherently needed, and Cordelia doesn’t shy away from it, or freeze, like others have in the past. She’s the first person in Misty’s life that really seems to reciprocate that.

For a moment, her heart stills in her thumping. She closes her eyes, and just enjoys the feeling that this brings.

A commotion outside plucks them from their serenity, her name called loudly through the halls. Cordelia puffs out, check moving against Misty’s. “Guess it’s time.”

Misty makes a gruff noise.

One that makes Cordelia laugh again, something she's heard a couple of times now. Soft and sweet and, when Misty takes a second to think about it, awfully pretty. Just enough to have a surprising heat bursting within momentarily.

Misty! They’re ready for you.”

It is knocked out of existence by those words, hissing as it dies. Misty, swallowing a bout of fear, wishes she could disappear, too.

“Wait, uh – which camera am I lookin’ at?” She points between the many on offer, Pursing her lips together in confusion.

It seems overkill to her, just like the microphone attached just on the neckline of her dress and the make up that they’d patted her skin with. Make up isn’t something she’d normally bother with, save a splash of eyeliner to replicate the same eyes that Stevie Nicks would sport.

In the heat, it is a claggy layer atop her skin, meaning it struggles to breathe. As does she, even if she tries to hide that.

Her butt shifts on the chair, back and forth. Making the material grunt in protest, and forcing her to clear her throat to hide it.

Everyone is watching her. She focuses ahead, to the interviewer. “The one behind me,” he says, like it’s obvious. Like she should know.

Rather than show any embarrassment, his tone has her turning a little colder, closing off before the interview even begins.

“Thanks,” she mutters dryly.

More muttering, so much going on for just one interview. In the other room, there is the added pressure that the other girls are watching, all gathered around a tiny screen that shows anything and everything that comes out of her mouth.

She peers to the corner; moments ago she’d quietly requested for Cordelia to be in the same room as her and now the woman sits neatly in this uncomfortable looking armchair. Nestled in, befitting of the grand arches the chair boasts, she wears a soft and delicate smile.

“Alright,” the voice distracts Misty from her thoughts, from the others, Cordelia; the guy right ahead primping his suit and getting the final touch up of his own make up. Something she has never seen on a man before.

“We are rolling in three. . .two. . .one. . .”

The last two numbers are mouthed, respective fingers counted down, and Misty uses the rhythm to keep her breaths steady.

It doesn’t work.

“Good afternoon, you are joining us here at Robichaux Academy here in beautiful New Orleans where the most extraordinary claims are being made. Statements made by the young starlet Madison Montgomery have not only been confirmed, but more added to this exclusive story.” He speaks quickly, with an envious confidence that shows he’s been doing this an awfully long time. There is such an ease about his posture, his words, and when she tries to recreate it, she feels like she’s forcing her own limbs into awkward positions. “We are here with the self professed leader of this cult, Misty Day, to get the inside scoop on what people are calling witchgate.”

He turns, flashes an artificial smile. “So, these claims – ”

“We ain’t a cult.” She cuts across him.

To his complete bafflement. Apparently, he isn’t quite prepared for that, at least not so early in the interview.

But Misty knows cults, has seen a blind faith worsened by a leader of lies and manipulation.

“You recruit women, young girls – ones just like Miss Montgomery. You are secretive in your teachings, you all live together in this home, and there have been strange reports from your neighbors.” He smirks over at the camera, “sounds like a cult to me.”

The way his lips contort has her frowning, taking in the sight with a swill of annoyance.

She pushes that out through her nostrils and works on a calm answer. Think about what Cordelia said.

Oh no, what did she say?

The words appeared to have tipped out of her brain, along with all others and, though visibly miffed, she finds herself at a lack of actions. In this vicious, cycle, it makes her even more annoyed, particularly as Bill taps at the cards in his hands impatiently.

“. . .do you not know if you’re a cult or not?”

His sneering tone isn’t dissimilar to many that she’s heard in her time. She feels the lines of her jaw shift, becoming harder, less malleable, and tells herself to relax. “We’re not.”

Simple, too simple.

His lips begin to move again, and Misty jumps the gun with the first thoughts that burst into existence.

“We don’t pick out people who ain’t got nothin’ better to live for – we are born like this, all of us.”

“Born with magic?” he clarifies, still on the edge of disbelieving.

Misty nods, wearing her own pride as a badge. “That’s right, every one of us. Even Madison. We have magic in our blood, runnin’ back to olden times.” There, that’s what Cordelia had said. Well, maybe not in such words, but he’ll get the gist, right? Across the room, Misty ignores the calling of the camera and peers over at her friend. Waiting for her there is a soft smile that she pauses to admire, to absorb some of the confidence it has in her.

For just a second, it feels easier to breathe.

“You are born this way? So, for example, I couldn’t just pick up a spell book and start doing my abra cadabras?”

The urge to roll her eyes is strong, and Misty isn’t exactly one to deny herself a whim. So she does; as strong as the waves themselves, they roll backwards. “No, it don’t work like that. You gotta been born with these powers.”

Then, she remembers something else that Cordelia had told her, and is all too happy to supply it to the cocky interviewer.

“Besides, men ain’t as powerful as witches.”

Her words bring about a sharp turn in the air, a slice of discomfort, and it takes her just a few moments to realize how it might have come across.

How, amidst Madison’s insistence of their danger, that it could sound like a threat. Damn.

“I mean. . .” She begins, the first note a squeak, “men have something that blocks their magic. Chemicals or something.”

Chemicals or something? Misty wishes she could sound at all knowledgeable about this, but the history of the Salem descendants is not her forte, not when she’s only been a resident here a couple of weeks. And in that time, she’s died once and got pretty darn close a second time.

Swallowing the pool of spit beneath her tongue, she sighs and stares at the man for an answer. Maybe a little too intensely, seeing as he’s unable to hide his obvious unease. If anything, she should least take pride in the fact that she’s knocked him down a peg.

“And how do we know that we are safe from you?” He asks, in all seriousness. A fresh canvas of severe journalism that has Misty stiffening. “If you are as powerful as you say you are.”

Her mouth opens, and the words become too shy.

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Bill begins, as though there’s any possibility that such a thing could happen, “but you are the most powerful witch in this cult?”

“Coven.”

“Right, Coven.”

Once she has stopped wincing at the bite in her tone, she peers down. There, she sees hands holding to the seat handles like someone has shackled her to a rickety rocket and there’s no escape. Up ahead, the cameras continue their study. Unyielding. Large, shiny eyes of screens where she sees herself reflected.

And what does she see? More importantly, what do the others see? Someone who can’t even get their words out?

No, she won’t let them see that.

“The witches in this house are strong,” Misty agrees after a long breath, “each one of them strong in our own way.” And she has no doubt about that; her experience in this house has shown her the battle against adversity that she’s fought herself. She can certainly admire their fight, join in it. Lead? Perhaps, but the jury is still undecided on that one.

“And you?”

Misty blinks. “Me?”

His eyes darken thoughtfully. “Yes, you.”

“. . .”

The whole room appears on tenterhooks, no more so than Cordelia who has a visible lump in her throat.

“I am the Supreme.”

Unwillingly so. A gift chained to her. But hers nonetheless. This house, these women. And she’ll be damned if she doesn’t do them justice.

“I ain’t no better than anyone here for holdin’ that title. Power don’t mean anythin’ important, and it certainly doesn’t mean that me or anyone else in this place is dangerous.”

He leans back in his chair, now full of intrigue. Maybe his skeptical mind isn’t ready to buy into the hocus pocus, but he’s certainly along for the ride. “You must understand the things said about this cult – ”

“Coven. An’ I know what was said. I also know who said it; a person who is somethin’ even more dangerous than a witch.”

“And what is that?”

This is a moment where there is clarity, a lucid breath in her foreign terrain where the ground is beginning to look familiar. “A bitter celebrity,” she decides dryly. “Deadlier than a lotta things.”

It’s ever so slight, but she hears the puff of laughter exhaling from Cordelia.

Misty smiles, or at least looks noticeably more comfortable in that moment.

“Are you saying that Madison Montgomery is a liar?”

There he goes ago, she spots, trying to drag words from her mouth. Anything to make the next headline, no matter how much truth it holds.

Well, not her. Not today.

Aside from her clandestine gift, another reasons she's kept so segregated from the rest of the world is one very simple thing. People can be assholes, and selfish, and awfully manipulative.

Her words are her own. Not to be switched for the next best thing by some shifty reporter.

“What she thinks isn’t important,” Misty announces, confident where she hadn’t felt it moments ago. Even so, her fingernails still leave makes on the chair’s arm.

She lets eyes move around the room, where she sits under the sight of all the Supremes before her. The pressure mounts and finds home on her shoulders. “What most people think ain’t important. None of us are dangerous We’re just people born a little bit differently.” Her gaze fades, wanders to the floor as she considers her own upbringing, “There are still people out there like us.” She says, reminded of their widely dispersed sisters with a knock of wind sucked from her lungs. “Girls who don’t know what is happenin’ to them, girls who might be scared.”

“Girls with magic?” he clarifies, teetering maybe toward some sort of belief. If not, it’s well feigned.

She nods firmly, and for the first time doesn’t actively avoid the cameras that seem so intent on capturing her every movement. “If you’re watching this, an’ you think this might be you, then we are here for you. Call us or, uh, what’s the other one? Oh yeah, email, even come to the Academy. You don’t have to deal with this alone.” Then, she corrects with a more general, and home hitting statement, “you don’t have to be alone anymore.”

Emotion sits heavy on her chest, in the sudden sheen to her blue eyes. “Come find us,” she says directly into the camera, harrowed just at the thought of others suffering such crippling isolation as her, “please.”

Misty lays face down on the bed, face pressed right into the disheveled sheets. Here, she waits for her body to return to normal, for a calm state to override.

But the strumming of her heart is restless, and the residual buzz of so many people still hasn’t left her system.

Despite her heartfelt announcement, the interviewer had pestered more following the official interview. With questions and probing about magic, about just the very extent of what they can do. Worst of all, had played the cynical card alongside some misplaced humor.

“You didn’t mean that,” he’d chuckled as the set packed up, “about women being more powerful than men, right? Is that just what you tell each other? Like the whole sorority thing – a “you go, girl” sort of vibe.” His own decisions brought more laughter, deep and bellowing.

Niggling to the core of her soul. “No, we are.” Misty had shrugged. “It’s just fact.”

His face plummeted with no more prompting than that.

Then, a brow had risen. “Prove it.” He’d smirked.

Excuse me?” Having taken a step back, Misty glanced him up and down, sizing the opponent even after their verbal battle.

“Come on, all this talk. . .and we’re yet to see any proof. You can’t claim to be this all powerful being without showing it.”

She blinked a few times, hard and fast, and yet not enough to wash this image from her eyes. A few people had stopped their activities around them, sensing something. Maybe a shift, maybe the turmoil in Misty’s magic at the very suggestion. “I don’t got nothin’ to prove,” she had told him politely, making to move away.

Until an arm had grasped onto hers and stopped Misty in her tracks.

Eyes bulged, she had worn the face of shock, something close to indignant. “Let go of me.” A low hum, not quite a growl, but not far away.

In her peripherals, she'd seen familiar forms of her fellow witches, seen where they’d gathered around Cordelia and begun talking. Just like the rest of the room, it hadn’t taken them long to spot the situation.

Someone had spoken her name, called out across the gap.

His hand had tightened, leering smile asking for some almighty show. And she’d given it to him.

Despite knowing that Myrtle might be disappointed, or maybe something worse, she'd released the damn of built up power inside. Not seconds later, the nearby fireplace had erupted with the transferal of said power. Hot and hungry flames. A show indeed. If only it had stopped there; if only she’d found control within.

But the next thing she knew one of the cameras had shattered before their eyes. An explosion, a bang that had caused most of the crew to duck for cover in the closest surroundings.

To top it all off, her not quite content powers had felt the need to scatter the entire contents of the fruit bowl in their general direction. More specifically, aimed at a certain man in particular. A man whose eyes had wide-eyed comically at the sight of a stray pineapple headed his way.

At the very memory, Misty groans a little into the pillow, tries to forget the recent events. Not so easily done when they are seared into her brain.

The door creaks, but she makes no effort to move. A trill follows, the pad of small, furry feet. They make light work of the floor, of a jump, and soon something soft brushes against her arm.

Peeking one eye open, Misty half smiles at the cat. She rests her chin on her hands in a slightly glum manner and sighs. “Hey Tchaikovsky.”

He sits quaintly in front of her, the slightest of mewls from his chest.

“I think I mighta messed up.” She confesses to the feline, wishing she had her Stevie for comfort, or the heavy weight of a blanket to sit atop her muscles.

Maybe he can read her mind, or maybe thoughts are easily transferred, ‘cause he quickly hops up on to her back and offers the pressure that his small form has. Purring included. Those vibrations are just what Misty needs, calming with every passing second. If only they could wash away her memories.

“I dunno what I was thinkin’,” she explains to her quiet companion, “maybe that was the problem, maybe I wasn’t thinkin’.”

Dragging in a sigh, she slowly rolls – awkwardly while she accommodates to the cat – and ends up lay on her back. He remains loyally to her chest, nestling with kneading paws and shining eyes.

She scratches his head, watching with a softening heart as his eyes close contently. “He deserved it,” she decides. Then, dares to smile, “he was an ass.”

As if in agreement, Tchaikovsky leans forward a little and trills once more. She takes the opportunity to circle nails around the harder skin of his ears.

“The biggest ass.”

The voice at the doorway startles her, enough for Misty to jump upwards and almost send the feline skittering away. He, instead, gives something close to a glare. Unfortunately, her eyes are on Queenie in the doorway.

“Were you just talking to the cat?” she smirks, leaning against the nearest surface.

Misty exhales slowly, then shrugs. “He’s a good listener.” She runs fingers through her hair, stumbles at a knot, but given Queenie her undivided attention turn. “Everythin’ okay?”

“That’s what I was coming to check on.”

She steps further into the room, though not too close. Not like Cordelia, who surely would have sat herself on the end of the bed. She keeps a respectable distance, though still wears a smile that Misty tilts her head at. “How you doin’, girl?”

“Hmmmf.” She throws herself back against the many pillows. Too many, far too many.

“Oh come on, it was awesome.”

She frowns unsurely. “Awesome?”

“Did you not see his face?” She grins, “wish the cameras had been on – he looked like he was about to crap his pants.” Snickering sits atop her tongue, and no effort is made to hide her amusement. “Can’t tell whether it’s as good as the time you kicked Madison's ass or not.”

Despite herself, Misty smiles some more. Okay, maybe a lot more.

“Anyway,” Queenie gestures for her to follow. “Dinner is done, and you gotta be starving after all that work today.”

She really is, enough for her stomach to grumble in earnest.

“Plus, we got better conversation than a cat.”

Misty laughs sheepishly. “Like I said, just needed someone to talk to.”

Maybe Queenie isn’t quite sure how to offer her own comfort, but she at least gifts a smile. A nudge to Misty’s arm as she walks past. “Come on, swamp girl,” she laughs, “leave the animals and come back to civilization.”

She doesn’t agree, but she does follow her the long way down the hall, the stairs, through another set of rooms, where the dining room sits.

Candles and dimmed lights keep the ambience, morose for some, maybe. Soft, in her eyes. Calm, welcoming the eve.

She eyes Myrtle, remembering the disappointment she’d sensed in the woman after the. . .incident. Apparently, that is gone, to her great relief.

The head of the table waits for her to fill the spot. Always hers, it seems. She’d be happier elsewhere. Even so, adjacent to her on one side is Cordelia, just like always, so it isn’t all bad. “Hey,” She drawls out, more to Cordelia to anyone else, and she relishes the sight of the woman’s sudden smile.

Misty distracts herself from the strangely erratic jump in her heartbeat, peering out across the table. “Damn, that smells good.”

“Thought you’d say that.” Cordelia laughs, just like the way she’d stifled a laugh behind her fingers the moment Misty had inadvertently ambushed a reporter with flying fruit.

Freshly baked bread has her mouth practically watering, and she reaches for stack of rolls with zeal. Not the only one, apparently, as her fingers bump into another set on the way there.

Those belonging to Cordelia, who jumps back slightly. “Oh, I – ”

“My bad.” Misty shakes her head.

“You go first. . .”

“Nah, ladies first.”

She straightens, a little surprised, but still smiling. “Um, thank you.” In a delicate manner, she takes one of the rolls and manages to get it on her plate.

Misty watches the entire thing with her own soft smile, momentarily biting at her lip.

“Well, it’s been a day.” Myrtle decides a few seats over.

Still watching Cordelia, Misty nods in agreement. Maybe today hasn’t been as bad as she thought.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It's taking some getting used to, this waking up and there being other people around. Weird, huh? Cohabiting. Sharing a house, rooms, an existence, in a way.

Misty doesn’t remember the last time she's really lived with another person, save the not all there Kyle that she'd sheltered for a few days. Plus Myrtle had lived in (quite literally) her garden for a little while, hadn’t she? As it is, a mound of dirt with a rejuvenating body in isn’t exactly great company, nor was Kyle. Who, regrettably, couldn’t communicate other than a few grunts and groans that she'd never quite mastered to translate.

But now, conversation is awaiting her at any given moment. In fact, there are options. Imagine that, imagine having the choice of which person to flitter to next. Like a butterfly ambling through a patch of wildflowers in search of sugary pollen.

That particular morning, Misty spreads her wings, flies past Queenie in the library with her head in a book, zooms through the kitchen as Kyle and Zoe sit giggling together. Smiles are exchanged, nervously (Myrtle had been ranting on about everyone getting to work, but hey, they still deserve a little down time still).

She’s just wrapping fingers around the cool handle of the door when Zoe tears her attention away the from the blond haired boy. “You’re in a hurry.” She points out upon spotting Misty's purposeful walking.

She doesn’t beat to the bush. “Is Cordelia around?”

“Um, yeah,” Zoe begins quietly, “think she went to the greenhouse.”

As she suspected. Her own thanks come in a mutter, the direction followed toward the woman. She finds her in just that spot, face scrunched up in concentration as it so often is. It gives Misty pause, stealing glances from the threshold of the wooden door. A hand sits flush against it, taking in feel of the heavy grains; aged and ancient, much like the rest of the house seems. Not too far away, Cordelia probes and explores the rim of some leaves. She pinches, brushes fingers around the edge, then brings it closer for a whiff to be ever so certain what she’s holding.

In her observation, Misty’s head tilts, her posture relaxes, and a sigh begins right at the deepest part of her chest only to flow out of lips moments later. Enough for Cordelia to hear, and enough for her staring to have been floundered.

“How long have you been stood there?”

Misty flashes eyes sheepishly to the floor, but does step closer. “Only a few minutes.” She appears to be believed, and Cordelia holds nothing but a welcoming aura. Especially when she must feel Misty brush up against her side. “What are you doin’?”

As she speaks, she watches for the changes in Cordelia’s expression with interest, studying, noting. As though wanting to learn every tiny detail about this member of the Coven. (Her Coven).

The reaction she gets, and mirrors, is a smile. “Just working on something.”

Misty’s smile coils with mirth. “Well, that clears things up,” she jokes, a stretch in her side that she moments later realises is due to a leaning in the woman’s general direction. Righting herself, Misty lets the pungent smell of herbs hit her nose. “Is that rosemary?”

“Yes.” A pause. “It helps me clear my head.”

“Oh. Is everythin’ okay?”

If there’s one thing she’s learned about Cordelia, it’s that the woman certainly doesn’t enjoy being fretted or fussed over. Her reluctance to share any vulnerability shows through, evident in tight knuckles and a strain across her brow.

But just as Misty is expecting to meet resistance, a flat out rejection, she gets this forlorn exhale. “It’s been a long few days,” Cordelia slows, the first signs of discomfort showing. Unable to help herself, Misty already has swooped in, a hand atop the woman’s. “I’ve been having a little trouble sleeping, with thinking about my mother and Hank and the tests and. . .and. . .”

There is something to Cordelia's words, an edge that she sometimes takes. Hard, but not sharp. A barrier, almost, but Misty is drawn in like driftwood across lapping waves. She could fight against the current. She doesn’t want to.

Once again, she stands and offers her full attention. Deserved, really. Especially with the intensity in Cordelia’s mouth, her lips. “An’ what else?” Misty coaxes.

Or so, she tries.

The words can’t be tempted, lured or baited, no matter how much her soul cries out to hear just what ails Cordelia. As if she has the powers to fix them. Well, maybe she does, actually.

Tucking a loose strand of hair back, Cordelia shakes her head. “Nothing for you to worry about.” The smile she wears aims to quickly dispel away concern, shoo it from her presence, though Misty can’t help the way it lingers.

“Delia.”

Her own voice solidifies here, and the older woman takes note. In the form of slightly puffed out cheeks and a squint of her eyes. This particular morning, the glasses are not there to shield them as they so often are. The swelling may had gone down, but scarring remains. A spectrum of pinks and unsettling off whites that look painful in their mismatch. Misty winces, troubled, and perhaps mirrors the unease of her friend for a second.

“I’m fine.” Cordelia lies, enough to irk Misty.

She presses her lips so tightly together that they could meld into one. They may have tried, if words hadn’t crept through the miniscule gaps. “No, you’re not.”

Misty peers across that expression, then lets eyes fallen down upon feeling a twitch of movement beneath her hand. Oh yeah, the one that is flush atop Cordelia’s. Her breath becomes shallower, thoughts diluted.

Until Cordelia speaks again. “Are you going to keep asking me no matter what I say?”

She chokes out a laugh.

“Pretty much.”

“Guess I can’t say no to the Supreme, huh?”

Misty pulls a face. “’Course you can, but I’m naggin’ you as a friend.”

It gives Cordelia pause, ever so briefly. Probably not enough to be noticed by most people, but Misty sees it. Most likely the result of being stood in such tight proximity. It is uncertainty, doubt, as though she hasn’t had a true friend in a long, long time.

“I just want to forget about it,” she decides, a slope in her shoulders.

Misty restrains her disappointment, though doesn’t let her spirits become too dampened. Besides, there is a reason she sought Cordelia. “You know what helps me feel better?”

“Hmmm?”

She leans onto one hand, a palm pressed firmly into the cool table. When she briefly peers away from Cordelia, eyes make their way to the glass room, each panel fighting for light through the layer of climbers atop them. “I like to go out to the swamps. . .meditate – ya know, it’ll be good for you to feel the fresh air. You spend too much time cooped up.”

Her helpful words are met with a slow chuckle. “I’m not really much of a meditating person. . .”

She is quick to jump to another solution, any, and doesn’t pause to question why she wants to spend time with the woman. “We can just go for a walk then.”

“We?”

Misty is already wearing a smile, but now it grows wider. “Yeah.” She idly rubs at her upper arm. “I’m thinkin’ I need to get out of here too. . .”

Concern switches between the two women. Upon getting the first whiff that someone else might not be quite okay, Cordelia blossoms with petals of pretty worry. “What? You want to leave?” Where Misty has a hand over hers, she somehow manoeuvres them around until fingers are knitted intricately together. Enough for Misty to admire, to draw pupils over her own ringed fingers to compare them to Cordelia’s bare ones.

“No,” she pushes out a half laugh. “Not like that.” It’s too late to leave now, anyway, isn’t it?

A palpable sense of relief fills the room, makes the flowers dance in the corners. As alluring a display they give, Cordelia is too fascinating to avert attention from.

“Then what?”

“Just, for the day.” Another circle of the room is made, four walls observed – seemingly smaller and smaller with each passing day. “So,” she begins gingerly, “what do you think?”

Instantly, she is transformed back to her youth, to another time, asking the other kids to play with her in the school yard. She'd had friends, for a while. People who’d play tag together, or race to get to the jump ropes. But Misty found that as the years went by, and as the magic within her developed (magic that she didn’t really know was such), that more and more people started answering that question with a firm no.

Well, no is the kind way of putting it, and kids can be cruel.

But not Cordelia, who must sense Misty's bated breath and gives this wondrous smile. “You want me to come with you?”

“Yes.”

Cordelia faces forward, skin catching the faintest of light on there. Just a glisten. Beautiful enough. And then, after some deliberation where Misty wishes she could hear the echo of her thoughts, she gets a quiet. “Okay.”

...

“Are you sure you know the way?”

She gives another sharp turn, breaking from the bustle of a main road to a much quieter track. One that is less maintained, with grasses and foliage creeping onto the sides of the road.

Misty grins. “I sure do.” With a giggle, she adds, “mostly.”

But it’s a confident assertion and that seems to be enough for Cordelia. She sits with her hand just rested at the bottom of the window. Cracked open a little, air soars in and disrupts her usually perfect hair. Misty quite likes it as such, dishevelled and unkempt, but in a way that keeps stealing Misty’s attention when she ought to be driving.

Then, to add to her new exterior, she gives this relaxed smile. “You know,” she starts, a whisper. A secret. Misty’s chest constricts. “This sort of feels like we’re skipping school, doesn’t it?”

Misty snorts out a laugh at the analogy. It does, rushing from the Academy and all the bores of responsibility. “I didn’t go to school much in the first place.”

“I know.”

“Oh, right. ‘Course.”

It’s easy to forget about Cordelia’s powers, her gift to gain so much from a single touch. Strange; she doesn’t seem as in tuned with the other girls, as knowledgeable. Is it simply that Misty keeps no barriers up? That her past is there for Cordelia to peruse at a whim?

Even now, their fingers brush by accident, and she wonders just what insight Cordelia is getting. Perhaps she can offer some up, choose those memories. What would she choose? Which would equate to the best ones, those that bring tears and good and fondness. The swamps, yes, they always make her happy. Late evenings watching the sun slip from the world as she drinks warm honey tea. Sieving shallow pools for rocks and minerals, while an onlooking crested flycatcher sings its story.

All nice, very nice.

Yet in all of them, just her. And the world. Not apart, but not necessarily as one, either.

“You’ve gone quiet.” Cordelia comments.

“I was just thinkin’. . .”

The seat of the minivan beside her shuffles under Cordelia’s moving weight. “I bet it's beautiful out here,” she changes the subject, maybe sensing a melancholy in Misty that the woman had tried to hide.

She sits more erect, nodding. “Oh, it sure is. Miles and miles of nature. Don’t get me wrong, the house is real grand an’ all, but there's nothin’ more soul affirmin’ than getting back to our roots.” She inhales deeply near her own open window, enjoying the sickly sweet smell of a world that was for a long time her only friend.

“Well, I’m sorry to say but in all my years of living in Louisiana, I’ve never actually left the City.”

Misty blanches in shock. “You’re kiddin’?”

“I’m afraid not.” She shakes her head, though is smiling like this is all rather silly. “The Academy became my life, and then I met Hank. I was absorbed in it all, in being a teacher, in my own work.” A wistful sigh passes her lips. “It’s easy to forget about the rest of the world.”

Misty watches regret passing over Cordelia’s face, though is given few cues as to each individual one.

The car is coming to a halt by now, trampling over some dry grass in its path. Just like the car, both women still. Thoughts aplenty, a pleasant quiet in the confines of the vehicle.

Misty uses the opportunity to study what waits beyond the window. A crudely trodden path that nature is always trying to reclaim by force with an onslaught of weeds.

But the quiet persists for too long, and it’s difficult to watch a world that she wants to be part of. So, with a hand hovering over the door handle, she breaks the silence. “Well, guess it’s time you got outta that world then.”

She steps out onto the dry dirt, then hurries around to where Cordelia is slowly climbing from the vehicle.

Hands reach out to steady her in the unfamiliar terrain, and they stay ‘cause Misty quite enjoys the feeling of remaining so close. Around them, they struggle to find a breeze. Misty is altogether used to this, a sticky heat that the trees seem to worsen. Cordelia, on the other hand, spends most days hid away in her greenhouse. Already, she fans at her neck with vigor, and brushes back hair from her skin. “Jeez, it’s hot.”

“C’mon,” Misty leads with no questioning, arms linked and pace slow, to where the canopy of shadows can lighten the load of the heat. Just a little. What isn’t helped is that Cordelia’s proximity brings a spark of fire in the Cajun that no shade can chase away.

Cordelia frowns. “We have to walk?”

“. . .yeah. What did you think we were gonna do?”

“But we drove. I thought we are here.” She announces, enough to have Misty grinning and shaking her head softly.

“Roads don’t lead everywhere.”

Lips puckering together, she bows her head and hair catches a falling speck of moss. “Well, you are certainly sounding as wise as a Supreme should.”

Misty freezes, jarred back into reality. She’d come here to forget, for a few hours. To live in a world of ignorance and a noticeable lack of responsibilities. One that Cordelia has plonked her back into.

“Misty?”

Her throat is cleared, all dry from the heat, and she frowns faintly. “Can we not talk about that? ‘Bout any of the Supreme stuff?”

Something perturbs Cordelia. The sheer and plain avoidance? The strain in Misty’s throat? But the woman is no fool, and she can sense when not to push.

She tilts her head, and hair magically manages go catch something close to a breeze. “So, where exactly are we?”

“Not too far from Lafayette.”

“It’s quiet.”

Misty smiles, “it’s loud, actually. In its own way. The more ya listen, the louder it gets.”

And she does, ears pricking up. Then, as though directly connected, her smile widens upon the discovery of new noises. “It’s so different to the City.”

“Yeah.”

They continue to walk, slower than Misty’s normal pace, but enough to have the car far behind them and woods far in front. “Do you prefer it out here?” Cordelia asks the most obvious of all questions, an inquisitive little nature to her tone.

Still, Misty humors her with an answer. “I’ve always preferred it outside. Never been any good inside of walls.”

“See,” Cordelia nods, “I’m the opposite.”

Those words summon curiosity equally in the Cajun. Just as she’s directing them away from the more uneven parts of the route, she tilts her head. “You don’t like the outside?”

“No, no, I love the outdoors,” she starts to back pedal, “but I – I’ve been in the Academy since I was a kid. I know the rules. The routine, every judging elder who made their way onto the council. It’s easy, just knowing.”

Beside her, Misty nods her head in understanding, eyes glazed with thought. “You can’t know everythin’.” She provides, not to demean, but maybe to slug off the weight of that pressure that Cordelia has put on herself over the years. It’s true. Misty almost takes pride in her lack of comprehension sometimes. Isn’t it just nice to watch the seasons flicker through change and not question their transformation? To watch the acorn flourish into a great entity with no questioning?

Sometimes things are and sometimes they aren’t, and Misty doesn’t need to know anything else.

The only thing that’s ever really brought a grinding halt to that mentality is the expanding and obvious question of why fate chose her to be the next Supreme.

“I like to know things,” Cordelia confesses, “the world is full of things to learn, and I like learning about them all.”

“From your books in the greenhouse?”

It’s an unintentional jab where Misty realizes her statement seconds later. Too late, and guilt may hit, but she doesn’t correct the statement.

“I – . . .”

“Let’s keep walkin’.” Misty sighs kindly, splurging on her own sense of adventure and wondering if she can reveal Cordelia’s.

The older woman lets herself be led, even if boots are dirtied and her flowing dress snags on prickling and grabbing thorns. It’s harder, Misty knows, exploring a new world missing one of the rather important senses. So much that Cordelia doesn’t get to enjoy, eyes trapped behind those sunglasses. At first what she thinks is the swilling of that recurring guilt seems to have melded with something else – something that fizzes and shifts and feels altogether like the presence of her magic.

“So,” Misty grins, “Cordelia Goode. Tell me about yourself.”

“Me?”

Her brow rises, and she sees bugs skittering across the swamp surface not too far from their position. “Are there any other Cordelia Goode’s around here?”

“Har har, funny.”

“Come on.” She nudges at her side, “you seem to know an awful lot more about me.” Her smile widens at the idea of someone sharing in her past stories, even if through the touch of some magic. “What about you?”

“Well, I’m a witch.” She starts, grinning; like she can see the way Misty rolls her eyes at that. “I teach other girls how to use their magic, I’ve lived in New Orleans pretty much my whole li – ”

“Things I don’t already know.”

She is suddenly far more demure, as delicate as the leaves gliding in the wind.

Misty, in contrast, is certainly not reserved. “Tell me somethin’ that you ain’t told anyone else at the Academy.”

A daring request, but one that rolls easily from her lips. She can sense how more tightly wound Cordelia becomes, she could spot the tension a mile away. As it is, she’s up close and personal, and sees every precursor to it with her own shining azure eyes.

“Is this why you brought me out here? To find out all my secrets?” The joke falls flat as a pancake.

“Are you dodgin’ my question?”

“You could just take the answers, you know,” Cordelia says, “go into my head, see what you like. Or even, force me to say them.” It comes out so quick and strangely that Misty has to do a double take at its appearance.

“I ain’t Fiona.”

“Why did you want to know?”

Ah, the defensiveness returning. Is that Cordelia’s true form? Or is it the kind and patience woman who she occasionally gets a glimpse at?

Misty makes a noise. “’Cause we’re friends.” It occurs to her now that is the only one of the pair that is yet to refer to this as a friendship, though she pushes through any paranoia and adds. “Friends tell each other stuff. Secrets.”

“Well, why don’t you tell me a secret first?”

“I think you know ‘em all.” Misty grins, catching her out. “Plus, I don’t think I can hide how I feel mosta the time.”

Cordelia nods along, giggling, and bringing up the event yesterday with the reporter. A slightly bitter affair, though Cordelia's laughter sweetens it up enough. And there, Misty can manage to stomach it with her own chuckles.

“Okay, okay.”

Undivided attention is given to the woman.

“I don’t really talk about this with the other girls. . .or Myrtle, in fact, but I – I want to be a mom.”

She’s a little blindsided by that one, to say the least. Not that it’s a bad thing, far from it, but she’s been expecting some confession form her past. Not a hopeful allusion to the future.

“A mom?” she whispers back.

Cordelia plays the part of bashful for merely a few seconds. Then she’s sure, oh so sure. “Yeah.” She says with delight in her expression, pink cheeks and teeth wrapping around her lower lip. “I’ve always wanted that, as long as I can remember. Which, considering my own maternal relationship, is strange, I guess. But yes, kids, I want nothing more than to have one of my own.”

Her heartfelt words strike a chord in Misty, they make absolute sense. From someone estranged from her own family, she knows how deep the need to love is.

“I can imagine that,” Misty sighs out happily.

“. . .you can?”

Hurried nods follow. “Yeah, you’d be great at it. You were so good at teachin’ me stuff and you’re kind and sweet, and I just think, yeah, you’d be a great mom.”

The compliment does its job; it brings joy where Misty intends to. Unfortunately her offerings are clouded over rather quickly.

Once again, Misty is left feeling like the one who has no footing as she peers over at the troubled Cordelia.

Then, she speaks, and it all makes sense. “I, um, I actually can’t have kids.”

The air flees from her chest. “Oh.”

She’s wearing this sad smile, like she’s trained herself to don such a thing. It is persistent and holds strong, even if the rest of her wants to fall apart. “It won’t happen – I’ve been to loads of Doctors. They pretty much spelled my chances out right in front of me.” Misty stops their walking, allows them to focus, and maybe she regrets asking when she hears something akin to a sniffle from Cordelia.

“Delia, I – I’m sorry, I really am.”

“It’s probably for the best. Especially now.”

Misty grunts a little in annoyance, not wanting to be vexed by the self deprecation, but certainly inching nearer. “Hey,” she starts, and has Cordelia facing in her direction by command, “you'd be good at it no matter what.”

“Guess I’ll never find out.”

Oh, how Misty wishes she could prove her wrong. How she could take the very fate and twist it with her own hands. Wait, maybe she could, maybe her powers. . .she makes a note to look more into it.

To make such a dream come true.

She can see it with minimal struggle; the sight of Cordelia with a child, a little girl, who laughs and giggles and so utterly adores her doting mother than her eyes light up at the sight of her. She’d teach her about plants and the spells and the magic that gifts a select few girls.

Such an idea has Misty giddy, slightly breathless. She is unable to shrug it off as they continue walking, higher now, though plush fields. Stalks tickle at her calves and the sun breathes down her neck, and she’s grateful that Cordelia confided in her.

She feels closer, in a way. A holder to that secret, one that Cordelia asks her not to tell the others (“I don’t want to distract them with my problem”) and one that makes her heart ache a little.

“How long have we been gone?” Cordelia asks out of interest just as they’ve found a cosy spot not too far from the treeline.

A fallen tree offers a place to sit, mostly smooth on its bark, and only a few obnoxious gnats flitter around them. Misty glances up at the sky, measures just how far the sun has crossed while they’ve been lost to chatting amicably about secrets and the swamps and sharing stories that make the other giggle.

“A few hours,” she shrugs, opening Cordelia’s palm to delicately place some berries she’d gathered in. Only the nicest ones are gifted to her friend, the roundest and sweetest looking. While Misty? She can make do with the wonkier sizes in her cache.

Cordelia lets one of the plump fruits pass her lips. In some strangely freeing show of glee, she laughs. “I didn’t tell anyone that we were going.” She seems both aghast by the realisation and yet excited by it, too.

It earns the most genuine of grins from Misty. “Me either – you think they’re wonderin’ where we are?”

“Oh, without a doubt.”

She chews happily on her own food, though wishes they'd brought something else. Though not arduous, the small walk has certainly grown her appetite. “Guess they’ll have to wait.”

“Yeah,” Cordelia agrees in much a free spirited way that Misty likes. It’s nice to see her like this, and it’s even nicer when she speaks next. “I’m glad you invited me.”

“I’m glad I invited you, too.”

The woman pauses to contemplate her words. “You didn’t have to.”

“Has it helped clear your head?” Misty doesn’t beat around the bush, only speaking simply, and though that’s all there is to it.

Cordelia nods eventually. “I feel better.”

A darker berry disappears onto her pink tongue. “Good.” She’s been trying to look elsewhere, but there’s a gravity to Cordelia that she can’t help falling prey to. “Any time you need to, we can come here.”

“What about you?” The woman switches the observation. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine.”

“Not all the way, though.” Cordelia decides.

And here she is, unable to lie. Not when it’s only Cordelia. “I got lots of stuff to think about. Yesterday was. . .yeah.”

“You did great.”

“But that – afterwards.”

Cordelia scoffs, “Misty, he was being completely rude and arrogant and – ”

“Not the guy.”

She sounds rattled, to her own shock. Quickly covered by a clearing of her throat, a shuffle of feet.

It all surges back into her mind in a series of movements, piercing noises, then the way she'd felt. In that moment, she guesses it’s time to repay a secret to Cordelia. “The feelin’.”

Cordelia completely freezes.

“Feeling?”

“I – ”

Her words wrap around her tongue and renders it useless, any syllables strangled in the fight.

A hand reaches out, blind but determined. It at first finds Misty’s forearm and then smoothes down toward her hand where it holds on gently. As comforting as that may be, Misty experiences the same cold sweat she had yesterday, the pricking at the back of her neck.

 Powers, her powers, and yet somehow a little unrecognisable.

“It felt weird, for a second,” she says in a hushed tone, “an’. . .an’ scary. I didn’t mean to do all that stuff, it just – happened.”

“Hey – ”

“I didn’t like it.” Misty insists.

Cordelia takes that hand in both of hers now, rubbing fingers in soft circles. “Hey, it’s fine.” Misty is rather grateful that she can’t see the conflict on her features, but maybe she can sense it in her soul. “It is fine.”

“You think somethin’ like that’ll happen again?”

“I'm not sure.”

She cringes, “it’s just so much sometimes – they’ve never felt so strong before.”

“It will take time.”

She wants to believe her, she really does. Staring down at their joined hands, Misty loses herself to thoughts. It's weird; she’s never been much of a cerebral person. Not for one minute. Not when she’s at the whim of actions and feelings.

Spending so much time with Cordelia must be rubbing off on her.

But she stares, and she thinks, and remembers. Such things are accompanied with a terrible wash of emotions as. There are bad things associated with these powers, bad people, bad intentions – what is the point of these things even existing if to be wielded by the wicked?

Bad, as it stands, has an arch nemesis.

Good, to put it simply. Everyone knows that, everyone should know that. As the negative attempts to take hold, Misty shines the light of good its way. She thinks of rebirth, the fierce loyalty, protection, love.

All things witnessed recently in the Coven, her Coven, and all shared by Cordelia; a great keeper of good. What would she do with these powers? What gifts would she give the world? What good can be given with them?

Suddenly, Misty feels the spiral slow, her thoughts becoming far more lucid. One thing is clear, that she owes Cordelia so, so much. She could give her something, right now. Well, she can try, anyone.

Hands break from Cordelia’s and lift upwards, much to the older woman’s confusion. “Misty?”

“Can I try somethin’?”

Her fingers remain close, just waiting for permission. It is granted after a long pause, even if there is a visible gulp in Cordelia’s throat.

Misty shares in the nerves, but is once again second to the power within her. This time, it doesn’t seek a grandeur display for itself, or to put an obnoxious ass in his place. What it seeks today is again something that Misty struggles to control.

With trembling hands, she grasps the sides of Cordelia’s glasses and tugs them away. “Hey, what are you. . .”

“Shhh.” She breathes out, not meaning it to be a command, but Cordelia does fall silent.

Misty couldn’t break her stare even if she wanted to, and it aims full force at those eyes in front of her. Scarred beyond repair, bulging redness, sacrifice. Her gut clenches and those hands now move to cover over them.

She doesn’t know what she’s doing, how, but she listens to the buzz of energy within. Even if it means she can’t hear Cordelia’s shakily asked question.

Her fingers burn, and her arms feel lead laden, and the bird song diminishes into this ringing in her ears. She focuses so hard that her brain pulses with effort, that she tenses tendons and muscles, and both protest. But not her magic. No, that pushes beyond its mortal bounds to do something truly miraculous.

To fix what ought to have never been broken.

Cordelia is still, engrossed, and just as much under the hypnotic powers of magic. At first, she’d attempted to stop Misty, but now hands sit limply at her side.

Misty can’t even stop herself, not that she wants to halt the flowing of lava through her veins. She doesn’t know the right words to do this, the right way to channel to energy, but perhaps it just needs her to let it get on with the task.

It’s strong, so, so strong. Scarily so. Soon, her hands ache, they quake some more, and energy appears dragged from every corner of her body, from the deepest reserves.

But she just thinks of Cordelia, of doing good, and then suddenly the pain starts.

It’s her eyes, itching as though she's refused to blink for a few moments. She does blink and still experiences that nuisance of a feeling. Her powers push through. Yet it gets worse, an itch that becomes a burn, and in turn, a terrible pain that forces her to suck in a sharp breath. “Ah.”

Cordelia is broken from her spell, once again uttering words of protest.

“I can do it.” Misty pushes out, a great effort, where her eyes now scrunch closed. That may plummet her into darkness but the searing of her retinas won’t go away. Both eyes ache, cry out, and yet she can’t stop.

Her name is spoken again, this time by a worried Cordelia rather than her own brain shouting it.

That is promptly ignored in favor of her work, for concentration, and quite frankly all she can think about is how her eyes are on fire. She’s never known anything like it before, this heat, this slicing discomfort. Tears well at the bottom of her eyes, flood out moments later, and her pulsing brain pushes a wave of dizziness through.

Misty sways, though grounds herself. And she embraces the pain rather than fights it. It becomes slightly easier to breathe, then, to do anything.

What she does do is open her blurry eyes, and she finds a set staring back at her.

 

Chapter Text

In the short while that Misty has known Cordelia, the woman's eyes have gone through a series of transformations. From scarred and bleached, to a mismatched pair of pretty gems, and then back to a sight all but mangled. So many forms, so many masks; with each, a different Cordelia it seems.

She can see them all so clearly, their separations not always the most distinct but there. Certainly there.

And now, Misty gets to see those eyes finest moment. Their revival. Of real, true eyes. Cordelia stares back with these vast swirls of deep brown that Misty hadn’t been expecting.

Not that she thought she’d be able to heal them in the first place, but the least she could do is try. Look just what that succeeded in – the most wondrous set of eyes staring back and. . . “Why are you cryin’?”

Cordelia gives a tentative blink, which aids in helping a couple of teardrops begin to roll down her cheeks. Her lips may part, but she isn’t ready to speak. Not as shaky hands lift, as an emotional noise pushes through instead. The expression she wears triggers a memory in Misty; the verdant leaves, the bountiful flowers and, just as beautiful, the sight of Cordelia stood in the greenhouse before a recently resurrected Myrtle. The same wonder is there. Confusion, so thick that she can taste it. Disbelief, coiling around the two of them, and gratitude, for something that she’d clearly already mourned.

But just as she’d brought back Myrtle, she has given Cordelia a gift she truly deserves.

She develops a watery sheen over her own eyes, for the first time grateful for these powers. Something she never thought she’d be. The anxiety that usually sits in her tummy cowers in the wake of it, and her chest boasts this awfully full feeling. Yet light, so airy that she could just float away and drift amidst the clouds.

Cordelia reaches out, trembling fingers on Misty. That is enough to anchor her, a tether to this ground where Misty continues to stare, and so does Cordelia. Both are this wonderful sight of bewildered, delighted. “Misty,” she whispers out in astonishment, a hush that makes a shudder travel the length of Misty’s spine.

Her smile widens. “Did it work?” If she strained her ears hard enough, she could hear where the swamps try to drag her attention away with a melodic chiming of noises. As if is, all she can focus on is the heavy breaths of Cordelia. The ones that struggle to find a pattern, a purpose, ‘cause they deepen like the woman can’t get enough air.

Misty holds onto her tighter, hands tingly and numb. Is that her magic? Refusing to be quiet, defiant. Just like Misty always has been. With warm fingertips, she feels the focus of her eyes deepen and take in the sight of Cordelia for all it’s worth. “Cordelia?”

“I can see.” She breathes, allowing more tears free. “I can see you.”

Lifting those hands, they find where Misty's cradle her still and her thumbs brushes the back of them. Here, electricity surfaces and the tiny hairs on her skin stand on end.

“I can really see you.” More tears, a sniffle. And Misty’s chest clenches.

“Yeah,” she grins, herself moved by the wonder Cordelia wears.

“Misty, you. . .why did you – ”

Blinking, she cuts off the sights to those beautiful eyes for just a second, and then they’re back in all their glory.

That gorgeous brown. A beautiful depiction of an earthy hue that Misty is personally quite fond. But not all brown, apparently. The more that she studies, the more she discovers.

And it literally steals her breath when she recognises the tiny specks of another color within – one so startling familiar that it feels like a bolt of lightening striking her on the spot. It doesn’t find ground, even if her feet touch the floor, and the aftershocks continue to tremble through her body. For the drops of color seen within Cordelia’s eyes reflects the very bright blue of Misty’s. Those soft and tranquil irises, the sky blue, the gentle ocean. Bold and bright, and caught against the dark of Cordelia's eyes. Brown and blue, blue and brown.

Not like the eyes Myrtle had given her, one of each. Mismatched. This is combined, unified, and it makes her stomach twist in two, her world rattle as though someone has grabbed it at either axis and shook vigorously.

Why is there now blue in her eyes? Did she mess up? Did she accidentally give Cordelia some of her own eyesight?

Why does it make her feel this good kind of warm and fuzzy upon seeing the color of her eyes so intricately placed in Cordelia’s?

“I had to.” She says with the addition of a watery smile. “I – I – you gave your eyes to help me. . .least I can do is give ‘em back.”

It is sheer honesty that Misty portrays, that Cordelia could find without having to delve into her gaze. “You didn’t have to do that.” It’s almost berating, just the slightest abrasion to her tone, and Misty merely blinks.

“’Course I did.”

“Misty – ”

“You would have done the same,” she decides, then adds after a short pause and a smoldering of her expression, “if it were the other way around, you woulda helped me.”

The way that Cordelia catches words at the back of her throat says it all. And it feels so tender, so special. This moment, a miracle almost. Something that shouldn’t make sense, but just does. Then again, that is magic, right? Misty has never been able to explain just what wonderful gifts run through her veins, but ultimately until recently she’d never even pondered the why and the how, and had just lets things be.

Maybe magic just is, or perhaps it exists for moments just like this. To perform small miracles.

Cordelia, with her big and bright saucers of eyes, looks to Misty as though she’s just performed the most wondrous of tricks. The smile wavers just a little as Misty noticeably sways under a sudden bout of exhaustion. So strong that her muscles give slightly. They spring back into action as Cordelia lays sturdy hands either side of her. “I’m fine.” She beats the woman to her concern.

“It was too much, wasn’t it? God, you’re still coming into these powers and now. . .for me. . .”

“I’d do it again and again.” Misty smiles, ever so sure and crooked, and letting eyes half hood against a high sun. Cordelia shifts, offers reprieve in the form of shade from her shadow, like an ancient tree standing at attention to protect the budding saplings right on the marshy floor.

She keeps her reprimands away, for they both know she's grateful. Her fingers curl around one of Misty’s wrists, and the other lingers just as her hip. (Misty tries not to think about how her stomach quivers over the proximity). “Are you okay? Are you tired? I've heard stories that it can be exhausting to try your new powers, that – ”

“I feel great.”

“But – ”

She laughs, more through reflex, and shakes her head. “Honestly. . .I don’t think I ever felt better. I feel like I just jumped outta a plane or somethin’. . .”

“What?”

Misty tries to pinpoint exactly what her emotions are, to understand her body's response, but it’s all jumbled and mixed up, like a ball of string that has been unraveled and knotted and criss crosses every which way. “I kinda felt a little drunk, actually.”

The look at the Cordelia gives her, with those eyes narrowing in confusion and question, is too adorable. “That’s. . .good?” She offers an inflection at the end, a high little note; it has Misty grinning with ease.

“Yeah.” She agrees with a nod, “I think it is.”

And one again, they fall into a quiet world of gazing, where expressions are studied beyond any lengths that she’s ever gone before. She certainly likes what she sees, the deep sea surface of emotions, the even deeper one’s that lie beneath.

Lifting a hand, she wipes where joyous tears had gathered and stares at the glistening trail left behind.

In turn, Cordelia takes hold of those helpful fingers and doesn’t let go. There it is again, that eternal gratitude, that “you didn’t have to do this” poised in her eyes. But Misty doesn’t pay attention to it, and instead enjoys the fact that there is a pretty brown canvas for those very feelings to live on once more.

What she does cast her pupils out toward is their surroundings, heart warming at a sweet notion. “You know, I’m glad that the first thing you get to see with your eyes again is this place. . .lotsa people ain’t fans, but I think it’s awful nice.” Draping leaves, broad and aged tree trunks, the distant trickle of water the taps against the swamp surface like piano keys being played.

Misty slowly welcomes in a breath, admiring as though she too has a new set of eyes.

“It’s wonderful,” Cordelia agrees, not missing a beat. Yes, there’s still emotion to her voice, but she’s got a firm hold on it. So when she speaks, it accentuates her pretty tone. “Thank you, for bringing me here. . .for everything.”

“You don’t gotta keep sayin’ that.” Misty tilts her head to the side, making her smile angular with it.

“I do.”

The woman shifts, wishes she didn’t have the barrier of her shoes so she could feel the ground with the soles of her feet. Discomfort finds her voice. “Seriously, Cordelia, I did what I had to.”

She ignores mentioning the sleep stealing guilt that had riddled her, and instead watches clouds of thoughts pass over the blonde’s features. Then, she gives this ridiculously wide smile.

Misty’s stomach whooshes.

“What are you smilin’ at?”

Twisting to the side, Cordelia lays fresh eyes upon the thriving nature. So strange, to see her in this setting; detached from the Academy and the Coven. Not a headmistress, a teacher, but just Cordelia. Misty smiles, too, even if hers is a more conservative affair.

“I just – I was thinking. . .magic is different to you, isn’t it?”

The obscure little observation has Misty's head spinning slightly more than it already is. “Huh?”

Smacking her lips together thoughtfully, Cordelia breathes out in a delicate manner. “The way you use it.” She explains, “it’s. . .devoid of pride, the other end of the spectrum really. You – magic isn’t some toy that you use to show off to people, to put them in their place.” Even though she finishes speaking, there are words lingering in the air. Words that pertain to the only other living Supreme Cordelia has ever known. Like my mother.

Misty sits straighter, feels the flexes of muscles that show their irritation at her mention. “My folks always thought my magic was a curse, so I guess I spent an awful long time tryin’ to prove them wrong.”

That information is absorbed with a pitying and saddened smile, but assurance returns on swifts wings. Cordelia wears no signs of fallacies as she leans closer, taking her turn to cradle Misty's fade between two palms. “Your magic could never be a curse.” She says, with such intention, such fire; Misty can see the maroon flames burning within her rejuvenated eyes, and her chest clenches at such. “It’s part of you, it is you.” Up close, Misty can spot every small freckle and imperfection on Cordelia’s skin. She also sees the gracious extension of her lips’ curves at the corners. “It’s good, pure - just like you.”

Hearing that from anyone is enough to soften her very core, but hearing it from Cordelia has her melting on the spot.

It appears then, this whimsical idea; the very one that tells her to push that bit further. To close the pesky gap of warm air where something drags and clutches at her. What? Attraction? Small sparks of electricity? Cordelia’s gravity? Whatever it is, it certainly feels as though it’s working. Misty, powerless to all of her whims, feels a heartfelt whimper deep inside and shifts ever nearer. She wants to kiss Cordelia, to be close with her. She seeks touch, connection, like she has her whole life. But this feels different, and it’s awfully scary that the intensity of this whimsical is one she’s not yet experienced.

But as her frivolous emotions consume her, it gives Cordelia time to beat her to it. To act in a manner of impulse far unlike anything she's ever shown before.

Yet she does, and she swoops forward. Maybe she chickens out last second, ‘cause her mouth misses Misty’s own and instead settles just under her cheek, right where her dimples appear as she smiles. Either way, it has the desired affect, a huge swell of dopamine hitting Misty with another high. She breathes in so deeply, inhaling the sweetness, the pleasant aroma of Cordelia and the surrounding fauna and the moment, until the nearby presence becomes so much that she forgets exactly how to exhale again.

That only comes with the retreat of the woman, who pulls back with half closed eyes, and seems to draw that puff of air out as if it’s attached to her by a piece of string.

Misty sends an awfully smitten stare her way.

“I – ” Cordelia briefly looks bewildered by her own hasty action, only to settle into a low laugh. “I don’t know why I did that.” She says, not apologetic nor regretful. Just a commentary, maybe.

So Misty’s smile remains. “You don’t need a reason.”

Reason or not, Cordelia is suddenly the sight of bashful, with shiny eyes and hands that fidget with hems and the trails of random lines along the fallen branch they sit on.

The ghost of her lips remains on Misty, holds her in this spell. She senses the change in Cordelia, spots where nerves push through her normally sure persona.

“C’mon,” she makes to stand. Hands are placed on her own hips as she surveys the possible options, “lemme give you a tour of the place.”

Joining her on her feet, Cordelia brushes any debris from her dress and then stops, pauses, looks up. As though engaging in the world from another angle with her new eyes. Tears appear again, but neither comment on it. “I’d like that.”

The concept of time is lost in these woods, as though numbers and ticking clocks are too frightened to pass the expansive unit of trees. Misty is glad for that, for the blissful ignorance. Ease. In a place she lives and breathes, and with a person with which everything is just as effortless as a feather carried away on a willing breeze.

“Guess I don’t have to lead you this time,” Misty jokes, eyes dipping downwards for a moment. They had, after all, made their way arm in arm through the swamps, and she’d enjoyed every moment of it.

A warm hand finds hers, curls into it. Misty has to pause, to take it all in. She’s walked this route many, many times before, but never with a friend, and never with one who’d held her hand in such a gentle manner.

Maybe Cordelia can sense how her heart picks up pace, and maybe she doesn’t mind.

Even before she’d returned her eyesight, Cordelia had been the only person to really see her, anyway.

They walk, slowly – taking in what the world has to offer. It’s perfect, almost. Until Misty severs the touch just briefly, bending down to pull off her muddied boots and let skin meet the many textures beneath. Her body sighs out, contented, especially when Cordelia laughs and takes her hand once more to lead her.

“Better?”

Misty grins. “Much.”

With boots in one hand, Cordelia’s hand in the other, and easy chatter filling the air, Misty almost never wants this to end.

But it does.

Nothing lasts. Not her family, her solitude in her cabin, and not this walk.

Cordelia insists on driving on the way back; she seems to take great pleasure is disregarding her cane to the side. Misty lets her, ‘cause if she’s not driving, she can spend more time watching. Admiring. She does just that.

Under no guise of cover.

“What are you staring at?” Cordelia asks, almost coyly. God, she’s so different, so relaxed. The more they’ve been away from the Academy, the more Cordelia has shed the tension of the tests and now she’s all smiles and giggles.

“Ain’t I allowed to look?” Misty says, deciding this Cordelia may be a little more elusive, but certainly shines so brightly to make up for it.

The car pulls up in front of the house, where it stands and waits almost like an angry parent, tapping at its grandfather clock and asking “what time do you call this?”

But they’re not kids, and the sun still remains in the sky, so it can’t be that late.

Only, the others are apparently waiting for the signs of them, or at lead the noise of the car. As they both head out, starting a slow walk up the path (sans hand holding, this time), the doors pushes open and there standing the silhouette of Myrtle in the doorway.

“Did you not think to tell any of us that you were both leaving? Now is not really the time to be – Cordelia.” An echo of a gasp bounces about the hallway.

Misty keeps back, allowing Cordelia her moment, but watching with joy on her features as a shocked Myrtle steps closer to inspect her eyes.

More tears follow, the good kind. “They’re yours.” Myrtle comments in astonishment.

“Yes.”

“Just as beautiful as I remember.”

Cordelia’s smile grows.

Only for Myrtle to frown slightly. “They have blue in them.”

“Excuse me?”

“Your eyes – they have. . .blue drops near your. . .blue like. . .” She stares at Misty again, who looks back and figures Cordelia would have found that out at some point herself.

Still, the woman looks to her in question, in a show of surprise. “Misty?”

“She’s right. I don’t know why, but it just happened.” She licks her lips nervously. “It looks nice, though.”

Her reassurances have Cordelia satiated, albeit a little confused. Yet there are bigger issues than her newly colored eyes. They both glance back to Myrtle. Any annoyance as to their clandestine whereabouts seems to have been thrown from the window. Myrtle doesn’t have to question how, nor does anyone offer an explanation.

Instead, the woman turns to Misty with this knowing smile, her own bout of thanks, and ushers them inside.

The walls stifle the fresh air a little, but Misty lungs feel lighter after the day she’s had.

“We need to find the girls. While you two were off gallivanting somewhere, I was here dealing with the Coven.” The two women may share a look, but neither comment. “Where were you anyway? Misty, you’re all muddied, and Delia. . .you have leaves in your hair.”

Misty had known that, but she thought the leaves accentuated her hair in a pretty way, so she’d kept quiet.

“Oh, we just – went out.”

Coming to a halt, Myrtle has both of them stumbling to stop, too. “Out?”

“Yes.” Cordelia stresses the one syllable, leaving no wiggle room for questioning.

There’s no time for sights to be set to Misty as the others appear with less questions but rather stories.

“Shit, you guys have been gone for so long. Thought you’d ran off into the distance hand in hand.”

 She rolls her eyes at Queenie, mouth poised to speak.

“Holy fuck, Cordelia – your eyes are fixed!”

“. . .yeah.” She nods, biting back a smile with her teeth.

“How did you. . .”

Again, eyes settle on Misty. But she’d been distracted by a nearby houseplant that looks all too thirsty in its pot.

“Misty healed you?”

At the sound of her name, her head pops up. “Hmm?”

“Damn, those are some real strong powers if you could fix the mess you turned them into.” Queenie comments, still marveling at the sight.

A haughty noise is provided by Cordelia. “I did what I had to for the Coven.” Such ideas have Misty growing cold with discomfort. How many sacrifices have been made for this Coven? How many more to come? A particularly trying idea joins those thoughts – just what sacrifices will she have to perform?

“Is that why you two left?” Zoe switches the subject.

“We just,” Misty supplies quietly with a shrug, “we just went to clear our heads.”

Whether that is believed or not, there’s no further time for investigation. A distant phone ringing catches their attention. While Cordelia and Misty may look surprised, the others merely roll with the punches.

“Who is that?” Cordelia asks, clearly unsettled by the idea of being out of the loop.

“Probably another person calling.”

“Callin’?”

Myrtle appears between her and Cordelia, a gleeful bounce to her step. “The interview worked.”

“It did?”

“Oh yes, it must have aired today because the phone has been going off non stop! But that’s good, wonderful actually! All these girls, witches, flocking to us for safety and guidance.”

Misty lets her gaze circle the group with mouth parted and begging to ask many questions. She doesn’t, not when there is both relief and pressure. It’s the start of what they’d wanted, right? To help people. To show them who they truly are, who they can be.

Although that’s gonna be a little difficult when Misty isn’t so sure who she is now that she’s at the helm of this giant ship. And even though everyone else seems to be pleasantly enjoying the days of sailing, she’s influenced by a plague of sea sickness. Beside, Cordelia grows with happiness. “You were right, Misty!”

She smiles at the excitement despite the loose butterflies in her tummy. “It was your idea.” She corrects, giving credit where its due.

But Cordelia waves it away like somewhat would swat at an unwanted fly.

“Um, is anyone gonna answer the phone?” Zoe pushes.

“Oh, right.” It is Cordelia who rushes off, wearing this delighted aura that lingers in the room for a while.

Misty stands there, a little breathless for some reason, but soon under scrutiny. Forcing herself to stand a little taller, she smiles. “I – this is good, huh?”

That is not what the younger two want to talk about. “How did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Heal her. Her eyes were one of the most fucked things I’ve ever seen, and you wouldn’t even be able to tell that anything had happened to them.”

“Ah.” She starts, “I just did it, I guess.” Nothing more, nothing less. Plus, she still isn’t exactly sure of how she managed to pull off such a feat, bur she isn’t about to go sharing that with anyone. Not when they need her to be this strong and all knowing leader.

“But how? And what about her powers – can she still see visions?”

That gives her rapid pause, a squeeze of her chest. Misty hadn’t even considered such a thing. Not cast a single thought toward anything other than giving Cordelia back her sight and yet, with that vision, has she stolen something in turn? A power, a unique gift that only few witches are given.

Will Cordelia miss it? Oh no, what if she does? It wasn’t hers to take away, Cordelia never asked her, and a big strike of guilt finds her once more.

Someone squeezes her shoulder, that hand belonging to Myrtle. “Come on with me now, Misty. Let me tell you about what’s happened while you’ve been gone.” She leads her away, from questions, from worrying thoughts, and to the office that Cordelia normally resides in. That makes it worse, just for a second.

Distraction is the best technique. “Has there really been that many girls callin’?”

“Oh, countless! I’ve had Zoe and Queenie helping all afternoon. It’s certainly been a task but Cordelia will thrive on the organizing that she gets to do – I always told her that she’d make a wonderful receptionist.”

Misty barks out a laugh; she couldn’t see Cordelia as anything other than who she already is. “Uh, where do we even start?”

A hefty pile of papers are pushed her way, all with messy scrawl and hurried notes. “We need to sort through these. I hope you’re a fast reader – then there’s sorting travel, bedrooms, will we have enough? Oh, listen to me! I haven’t had to ask that question in decades. This is rather thrilling.”

She goes on and on, her usually gravelly voice a high and gleeful affair. Misty, on the other hand, already misses the open air of the swamp. This office is nice, but being confined within the walls is something she struggles with.

The windows are pushed wide open just as Cordelia finds them, speaking with just as much animation as Myrtle. Watching the pair, Misty smiles and enjoys the slight breeze that now dares to come in.

Just like Myrtle said, Cordelia jumps at the chance to see each file, bringing out an envious amount of stationery, binders, anything to color code, and adds them to the mess on the table.

Her beam is wide, this optimism in the air. When their eyes meet over the work, both of them linger for maybe longer than they should. Misty thinks how bright those eyes are, how beautiful, and she also remembers the feel of Cordelia's lips on her cheek.

 

Chapter Text

When she wakes, there is an overbearing weight on her forehead, a pain that niggles right into her brain. Misty sits with her eyes closed, tight, and huffs into the pillow. This headache comes and go, and this particular morning it is certainly fighting for dominance.

She battles back, willing calm within.

As one eye pokes up, she spies a sleeping figure curled up at the end of her bed. Tchaikovsky, a dark ball of fur, who presents slithers of orange that stare back. Misty sits up, compelled by the other living creatures. As she scratches his forehead, another hand rubs at her sore temples. “Mhmm, how did you get in here?” To her left the door is definitely still closed, but a mere glance in the opposite direction shows flowing drapes. Breeze from the open balcony doors explains it all. “Ah, you did some climbin’ huh?”

Wanting more attention, he moves into an arching stretch and then tiptoes closer to her. Beneath where he’d be sat, a pile of stray fur sits in a perfect circle, drawing a smile from Misty.

It plummets when her door rattles under attention. “Misty!”

Both her and the cat jump slightly. “Yeah?”

It is Queenie’s voice, holding slight impatience. “Are you up yet? Myrtle is about to lose her head.”

She wipes the crusted drool from there corner of her mouth and makes a sniffling noise as she fully wakes from her slumber. “Uh, yeah – I’m just gettin’ dressed!” Throwing herself from the bed, she sends Tchaikovsky into a tizzy beside her as she rushes toward the closet. There, a whole manner of shawls, loose dresses and vintage patterns stare back at her, lost in the expansive space that one filled Fiona’s closet.

With the first thing she sees hurriedly thrown on, she scurries from the room, leaving an unkempt bed and a dishevelled cat, and almost runs head first into Zoe.

“Whoa,” she exclaims in the echoing hallway. “Where are you going in such a hurry?”

“Myrtle.” Misty gives as way of an explanation as she hurries past.

Zoe’s surprise melts in a delicate smile. “She’s in the office – has been all morning. While you had a good sleep by the looks of it.”

That smile comes alongside a glisten in her gaze. Misty has been rubbing at her tired eyes where the skin is surely littered with pillow marks. “Hm, yeah.” They close ever so slowly. “I was up late last night.”

“With Cordelia?”

Misty frowns. “No.” Then, her head tilts and tries to take in Zoe’s strange little smile from another angle. “Why?”

“No reason.”

With a pretty strong side eye, Misty goes to speak again, only for the phone to beat her to it Zoe exhales loudly. “I better go and get that.”

Though there’s a little exasperation, likely a side effect of the early morning, Zoe does offer a smile in her retreat. It is returned easily by Misty. No one has asked to other girls to dedicate themselves to the Coven, but they are. All of their own accord. Is it ‘cause they don’t have anywhere else to go? Or is it a loyalty forged from their fight?

She doesn’t stop to think about it, not when she is greeted by the flurry of Myrtle. “Oh, there you are! I wouldn’t get too used to sleeping in, my dear, there is work to do!” She sets a pointed look on her, glasses lowered, and then smiles. On her approach, hands reach rapidly and begin coiffing through Misty’s apparently messy locks. “I’m afraid it's been a long while since I’ve had this many tasks – it is daunting to say the least.”

“It’ll be fine though.” Misty says in a sleepy stupor, the words pushed from the corner of her mouth. “Right?”

“’Course, of course.”

It doesn’t make Misty feel any better, but she puts it down to her hazy brain. “Guess we got lots of do, huh?” she peers around at the headache inducing amount of papers and notes surrounding them. “Where’s Cordelia?”

“The amount of girls that have contacted us – it is deplorable how they have been hidden by so many people, their talents squandered.” Myrtle continues, growing in vex with her words, and the question tumbles unanswered beneath them.

Misty sucks in a breath. “More of them?” It's almost incomprehensible, the gauge an amount, a number. What problem truly lives on their hands? Can she truly see? Is it one big surface problem where hundreds more lurk beneath? Misty is almost too frightened to dip her head below. Isn’t that silly? Being afraid of knowing things. At least, in her ignorance, there is still a chance for good to make itself present.

Myrtle looks to her softly. “We have an opportunity here.” She speaks tenderly, and with wisdom in her low drawl of a voice. “A chance to make this place better than it’s ever been before.”

Eyes widening slightly, Misty swallows that pressure where it sits, an indigestible mass in her stomach. “. . .yeah.”

Myrtle lightly caresses just under her chin, offering silent support, though jumps slightly as something erupts in her memories. “Oh, but it is not without sacrifice. I just got off the phone with Ariel Augustus.”

“Who?”

“Wretched man.” She shakes her head, frizzy hair moving around her. “He is a warlock.”

Misty blinks profusely. “Warlock – you mean. . .?”

“Yes, yes, men can have magic too.” She hacks up something close to a cough. “Or so they think. A few parlor tricks and showmanship, but I’m afraid their delicate egos must be tended to.”

Misty moves to sit down, more of this news to her. She’s always known there’s been a world outside of her swamp, her parent’s house before that. Even then, it’d been hard to imagine, you know? Stories and rumors are not always transcendent of the truth.

Here she is, in the every day world, with many more catapulted her way. “He has requested an audience,” Myrtle begins, “to meet the new Supreme.”

And it a quick moment of dissociation, Misty has to remind herself that she is the Supreme. “Oh.”

“I should have expected it really – they’re always wanting to stick their noses in our business.” Her voice becomes tighter, haughty, and just from her reaction, Misty already has a low opinion of the warlocks. “But alas, they are part of us. . .” She sticks her nose up, “unfortunately.”

Misty nods like she understands, then circles her index finger idly on the table before her. “So, I gotta leave?” She’s only just got used to this place. . .

“A trip is imminent, I’m afraid, but not yet.” She lifts her finger, pointing it upwards with determination and purpose. It holds Misty rapt, much like a swinging pendulum would. “First, we have work to do here, we have new girls on the horizon. The first of which arriving tomorrow.”

“That quick?”

“I wanted them to get here as soon as possible, under our protection. I know that the interview proved a wonderful gimmick, but I still have fears.”

Misty blinks, the actions of her hand coming to a halt, especially when faced either Myrtle’s grave tone. “What do you mean?”

Pausing, Myrtle smacks her wrinkled lips together. She adjusts her glasses, and her posture sags a little as she shares perhaps news that she knows isn’t wanted. “Lots of people will have seen it, so many girls – those who need a home just like you.” The more she speaks, the more Misty hunches up her shoulders and keeps breath trapped inside her lungs. “But that means that the wrong people will have seen.”

The Supreme is silent.

‘Dangerous people,” comes the clarification, as though Misty needs to be reminded that there are prejudiced people out there.

Even so, she shudders and closes her eyes. “You – you don’t think we’re safe?”

Safety is a concept that she struggles with, that she tries to project from something. When was the last time she truly felt that way? She thought she’d been safe in her cabin, until a gunman had shattered the wall with furious bullets. The very same illusion had fallen over her in the commune at the swamps, until they’d burned her alive for her sorcery. Now, even at the Academy, she’s died again and teetered over that line on another daring occasion.

Safe could very well be a foreign concept to her, but when Myrtle questions it, she feels a cold tingle down the length of her spine.

A hand touches just under her chin, caring. Misty squints eyes open and appraises Myrtle. “I think vigilance is our best course of action. And best not share this with any of the new girls – twenty four tomorrow. . .can you believe it? It’s wonderful.” Just like that, there’s a switch on her emotions, a control that Misty could never own.

She digests the number slowly, peers around at the room and absently listens to Myrtle pouring about her ideas of classes and routines and how wonderful it will be to restore the Academy to old times.

“Um, Myrtle?”

“Yes dear.”

Misty frowns. “Now, I ain’t so good at math, but twenty four new girls. We got eight bedrooms, five of which already got people in. . .where are we gonna put ‘em?”

She nods in understanding, a slow affair. “We will. . .figure it out. Zoe and Queenie could share, and we can get extra beds. After everything we’ve been through, we’re hardly going to fall down at sleeping arrangements.”

“Yeah, guess you’re right.”

She lets her mind wander, filled with silly little ideas and fantasies, such as the one of Cordelia sharing a room with her to make more space for the others, to help the Coven, (to help her feel less uneasy during the nights).

Smiling, Myrtle pulls away and returns sifting through paperwork. “Oh, and I think it would be wonderful if you put a few words together, for tomorrow.”

She freezes, victim to a sudden onset of paralysis. “Huh?”

“A speech, of sorts.” Her hazy eyes cast off into the distance. “Some empowering, something inspirational. Many of these girls will be quite wary, we need to help put their minds at ease.”

The words that she’s saying make total sense, hold all the rationale, and yet Misty finds herself dumbfounded, reluctant. It coats her words even if she tries to disguise it by clearing her throat. “You don’t think you'd be better at it than me? Seein’ as you know so much more about this place?”

“Oh Misty, this is your Coven, they will be your girls. . .they’ll want to hear from you.”

Closing her lips, she keeps any strained noises within and fights the discomfort sewn into her soul.

Just as easily as Myrtle dropped a bombshell on her, she is distracted by more trivial matters. “My goodness, the quality on there paper clips is absolutely criminal!” She gives a rather sure frown as she picks up a pile of papers, gesturing for a stunned Misty to do the same. Delving the pair into work, she talks and costs and parrots away, always finding a way to fill the quiet.

But not quite enough to creep between the newfound worries in Misty’s mind.

Misty wears a troubled expression on her journey from the office, walking fast. Walking ferociously. Walking just for the sake of getting away from the awfully big responsibilities that lie within.

Words bound about, kicking and reeling like some haltered bull with a foolish rider strapped to its back. Just like the rider, she’ll eventually fall, right? That’s inevitable.

She lets a hand hover over her twisted stomach and ignores the feeling inside. Her Momma had once told her that it’s the devil, that pinch on her insides. Misty isn’t so sure of what ails her, why the world seems that little bit scarier.

What she is certain off is that she seeks the one thing to revive the color in her vision. So perhaps each quickening step of her does have purpose, and that is to find one witch in particular. Which isn’t difficult. Her powers are heightened, you see – holding strength that would make a lesser man cower. If Misty thought about the extent of her gifts a little longer, she might tremble, too. She doesn’t. She yanks thoughts deep down, into an ocean of viscous existence that prevents them from rising again.

And she finds Cordelia. The air adopts on this fragrance, this sharp push of herbal scents. As she walks into the kitchen, she realizes why when she finds the particular blonde surrounded by fresh plants and dried ingredients. Her expression is bright, focus held by a book with the teeniest writing Misty has ever seen.

She steps further into the room, cold tile against her feet, and hums in appreciation over the breeze that the open door invites in.

Within seconds, Cordelia’s attention is on her. “I thought you’d be with Myrtle all afternoon.” It’s this half tease, alluding to Cordelia understanding just how Myrtle can be. She has, after all, grown up around the woman. Her respect for her shines through amongst any momentary irritation, and Cordelia wears a tender smile that has Misty crumbling like the pastry the woman is currently trying to make.

“She talks a lot.”

At Misty’s blunt observation, Cordelia lowers her hands to the worktop and bursts out into laughter. A delightful sight, close to carefree. Cordelia. . .carefree? It seems strange to see her free of the shackles the Academy so often grips her with.

Yet here Misty is, witnessing it with her own eyes. Grinning, too, at the mere sight of Cordelia’s happiness. Contagious, and all that. She’s glad that it is, for the gnawed nerve endings suddenly dull in their worries. “Yeah.” Cordelia shrugs one shoulder, “that’s just Myrtle.” She pauses, dips her head to stare at the mess she’s made, though appears rather unaffected by its appearance. “I’ve never seen her so excited.”

Misty gulps. “I gotta go to some place.”

“Hawthorne’s?”

Titling her head to the side, she widens scrutinizing eyes and lets her jaw fall slack. “How did you. . .?”

Cordelia rolls her eyes. “It’s tradition – the newest Supreme visiting parts of her Coven.”

Though she doesn’t like the idea, she nods either way. There’s a growing stack of things that she doesn’t like about this role, but she ought to grin and bear it, huh? “Myrtle had a lotta choice words about the warlocks.”

More spluttered laughter, unable to be kept contained. “I’ve only met them a couple of times. . .”

“And?”

“I’ll let you make your own mind up.” She insists, refusing to lock eyes with Misty as instead the food in hand becomes a focus.

Misty delves further into the room, stopping barely feet from Cordelia. Heat pours from the oven, from the other woman, too. It could be magic; that has always been delightfully warm to Misty, making her toes curl in a blissful heat.

Then Cordelia twists to smile her way, and that heat becomes a blaze. Sizzling her insides like she’s a poor marshmallow destined to turn to putty over a bonfire. She is reminded of their clandestine kiss, the surprising little arrival, and a tongue smoothens over her lower lip just to relieve its yearning for pressure.

“Are ya gonna come with me?”

Cordelia stops kneading the dough that clings to her fingers. Around her pretty, angled face, there is this haze of question. Then, she smiles. “On your trip?”

She gives an eager nod.

One that Cordelia watches with a growing smile. “What about here?” she questions. “Who is going to protect any new girls that we could have? Teach them? No, you should take Myrtle or Zoe or – ”

“Well, I want you.”

That’s as simple as it sounds, honest. Such a trip will be taxing, she already knows, and the idea of having anyone other than Cordelia by her side makes Misty quiver. What is it about the woman that is so comforting? So calming? She welcomes her presence with no qualms, feels not a single shred of judgement from Cordelia as she confesses her neediness.

The woman before her only smiles wider, as if she hasn’t ever really been needed.

“I’ve never been there before, you know.” Cordelia starts, not declining, but delving into honesty. “I’m not sure how much help I could be.”

Misty waves away that concern with prickling eyes, intense as ever. “You’re my council, ain’t ya?”

“I – ” She pauses, biting at her lip, “. . .yes.”

“Then I need to there. To counsel and stuff.” It’s the god’s honest truth, the niggling worry right at the pit of her stomach. While Misty knows her intentions are normally true and righteous, there’s often a disconnect with her brain. A tendril like line that goes all zig zag instead of straight, and things just sort of jumble up.

To put it simply, she isn’t so eloquent. Not like Cordelia, who can wrap her soft accent around anything and make Misty believe in seconds.

So yes, she needs her. In an awful lot of ways.

“I want them to take me serious.” Misty insists, “an’ Myrtle said something about a speech too, maybe – I dunno, I wasn’t listenin’ the whole time. But I might need to pick your brain for that.”

Cordelia laughs at her language, showing a toothy smile. “I can do that. We can start later, if you want? After dinner?”

The prospect of spending more time with Cordelia has her bubbling with an inward giddiness. “Sure,” she says, very much enjoying the offer of company from someone else, rather than having to grapple and plea for it.

They seal their promise with a set of delighted smiles, and then Misty peers down to the task undertaken. Suddenly, new girls and warlocks, and getting a better filing system all fly out of her head (thank the lord, the latter is awfully dull) and are replaced by much more frivolous questions. “What you makin’?”

Cordelia’s expression melts into sheepish. “A tart for dinner hopefully.” The last bit is spoken in a squeak, rather devoid of hope.

In the heat, Misty can already see the butter struggling to keep its shape amidst the flour; she senses a disaster on her hands without the use of any magic.

“You ever made this before?” she chuckles, head gesturing toward the pile of cookbooks sitting along the counter. Some frayed from use, other so abandoned that they adorn a thin layer of smooth dust. Only the recent fingerprints of Cordelia’s nosy hands have awoken the covers.

Returning to her kneading, Cordelia makes a noise. Something close to disgruntled. “I can cook, despite what the other girls say. Every time I’ve made them something for them, I have been blind. It wasn’t exactly my best work.”

Those unhappy sounds are chased away as Misty steps closer.

And Cordelia continues to roll the dough between gentle hands on the counter. “But this? No, I’ve never made this before.” Their gazes lock, and Misty experiences a wonderful jolt. “I’m trying to be adventurous.”

“Adventurous?” she raises her brows. “An’ you’re doin’ that by making pastry?”

She comes to a halt, hands dropping against the counter. The now smooth ball of dough rolls slightly atilt though stops before its grand escape.

Misty can’t hide the mirth in her eyes. “Don’t people normally jump outta planes or stuff like that for more adventure?”

“I’m not really a jumping out of a plane kind of person.” Cordelia comments.

“Then what kinda person are you?”

The question comes so naturally, as she leans back into the side, angles her neck just right to take full advantage of the afternoon rays of sun. Cordelia's pointed stare soon offers heat of its own, though it loses its intensity with the woman’s dwindling certainty. “I – I’m not entirely sure.”

“Oh?”

She holds her breath, without even thinking, without knowing why. Had she thought Cordelia would utter more vulnerabilities to her? Share things she dare not say to anyone else? Misty likes that idea, even if she won’t admit it aloud. For so long, only the creatures of the woods have gifted her with their secrets, and in all honesty, it’s much better than them with another person.

“Lots have changed.” Cordelia’s explanation is short lived.

Misty feels the hiss of air through her lips in an affirmative noise. She glances down. Soft splatters of flour sit on the normally polished floor. “Yeah, you’re not wrong there.”

Sensitive ears catch the strain in Cordelia’s breathing, too. “I thought I had things figured out, but I guess life has a way of knocking you to the ground.”

That catches Misty’s attention, has her head flinging upwards. “You think things are worse now?”

“No.” Comes the immediate response. “I mean – change is always hard, isn’t it?”

She nods, fingers tightly finding any surface they can. Tightening, moving so that her nails dig into her own palm as she considers just what changes have appeared in her own life. Not as subtle as the ease of staggered spring into a sweltering summer. More like a caterpillar, transformed entirely. A new form, one with no instructions, no prompts. It just is. And while a butterfly floats with such ease, Misty wonders if her own wings will be just as fragile; turned to dust by the lightest touch of pressure. She inhales sharply and focuses her eyes again. “Change is part of life.” Misty says.

This time, Cordelia hums. A softness to her expression, in the way her brows sway closer. “You are sounding very wise there.” She teases.

Misty face splits into a grin even if her insides somersault. “Well, I am the Supreme now.”

She watches as Cordelia heads back to the recipe, narrowing eyes at the words. Eyes that still work, wonderfully so. Enough that Cordelia doesn’t even have to wear glasses as she’d confessed to Misty that she used to.

As always, the blue speckles in them dance away as though performing for Misty. It is certainly enjoyed, just as is watching Cordelia’s attempt at turning the page with her flour covered fingers.

The corners of her mouth tugging instantly, Misty reaches over. “Here, lemme. . .”

Cordelia doesn’t pull away on the approach of her hands and the gentle collision is inevitable. What she doesn’t expect, however, is the gasp that pushes right from Cordelia’s chest and joins them in the room. Her eyes widen, brighter somehow, and hold Misty in quiet paralysis.

She can’t tug her hands away even if she tried, and doesn’t cringe nor recoil as a connection is made. In fact, she lets Cordelia hold onto them with all her might and oh, she does. With strength that emerges in plenty. “Wait. . .I – ”

Cordelia’s body had been stiff, held in this tight anticipation, before slumping. “I thought I saw something. . .”

The disappointment surges in, not leaving Cordelia alone in such. Misty’s shoulders also sag, pupils diverted briefly.

“It’ll come back to you.” She says, even if she doesn’t know. Even if she’s scared Cordelia might never get her second sight back. Rubbing a thumb rhythmically over Cordelia’s knuckles, she holds an apology in every second of her actions. A silent, cryptic thing that is given no explanation.

Cordelia merely swallows the sadness in her voice and then stares down at their joined hands. Even if there isn’t the whoosh of Cordelia’s magic from their touch, there is something else. It doesn’t go amiss on either of them.

“You want to stay and help?”

It takes a fraction of a second for her to nod along. “My hands are covered in flour now, anyway.” She points out with humor captured in her eyes.

A rolling pin is handed her way. “Here, you can do that.”

“Thanks.” She takes it easily, ready for her hands to no longer be idle, for her brain to have a task. The pair switch mode, working in tandem and giggling over which one of them has the cleanest hands to turn over the page. It reminds her of the first time she’d worked with Cordelia, the true Cordelia. Not the uptight and solemn woman who’d spoke in such a troubled way about the Supremacy. No, the Cordelia who’d stared at her intensely as they both chewed on enchanted fruit, the Cordelia who’d pulled her in closer as she spoke so highly of their teamwork.

She recalls their interruption, an abrasive man, someone lucky to have even called Cordelia his wife. Had they once been happy? In love? Peering at Cordelia through the corner of her eyes, she finds a pinching in her chest at the idea.

The desire to question her about it stands firm, and Misty struggles to fight it. Turns out, she’s not as strong as she thought around Cordelia. She does question the other blonde, her heart caught in her throat.

“We were married for a few years.” Cordelia sighs, sitting down with a fresh coffee now that her tart is baking away with a strong aroma filling the room. “It wasn’t unhappy. . .or happy. . .it just – ” She stops, face scrunched up in thought. “It was.”

Misty nods along, trying to make sense of it. She’s never been married, after all. Or much else of that. “Did you love him?” she asks, peering through thick lashes. Curious, slightly downcast, and hoping Cordelia doesn’t notice much of either.

Stopping mid sip, Cordelia hesitates. The smile is long forgotten, and maybe the outside world becomes a little more dim. It draws Cordelia’s attention. She stares ever so longingly at the cluster of growing clouds. “I don’t really know anymore.”

With a sheen of thoughtfulness over her gaze, Misty studies the woman in front of her. In her eyes - wise, strong, courageous, and yet she speaks in a tone that contrasts that. Suggests of more uncertainty.

Placing down the mug, she curls fingers around it. “Do you ever feel like you like the idea of something more than you like the actual thing?”

She could make a list the length of her arm. “. . .yeah.”

“That’s what marriage is like.” Cordelia explains. “At least, for me it was.”

“But – why did you stay with him, then?”

A wry smile is offered alongside a shrug. “Lots of reasons, I suppose. Enough to keep me with him.”

There’s an air of sympathy about Misty then, perhaps mourning with Cordelia the years lost not to a happy union, but more the work of convenience. Dragging in the longest of sighs Cordelia adds, “but now he’s gone and I – I’m. . .kind of wondering what’s next.”

She nods, an eventual agreement.

“I guess that’s the exciting bit though, isn’t it?”

“Hmm?”

“Not knowing what’s going to happen.” Misty shrugs, brows climbing that little bit higher as she explains.

Cordelia pulls a face. “I like knowing. I like being in control – I haven’t felt much like that as of late.”

There’s a certain disconnect here, for control means an entirely different thing to Misty. It doesn’t lead to assurance, to a sense of safety perhaps; controlling relates to fear in her world and the very idea has her shuddering.

Maybe Cordelia is scared. Misty sure feels it most days, though the idea of demanding control doesn’t sit right with her.

She can’t even tell her own hands what to do, as they inch closer, as they gravitate towards the woman in front of her. They sense the nearby heat, move to touch it. She’s always been one to adore the simple feel of touch, but with Cordelia it's all the better, and she can’t explain why.

Sometimes an explanation isn’t needed. Just actions.

And she isn’t shy about the way she takes hold of that hand, cherishing the feel of it in hers. “Maybe that’s half of the adventure.” Misty offers, “the not knowing.”

Cordelia barks out a laugh. “Yeah, maybe that’s too much adventure for me.”

“Nah, just the right amount I think. Plus, we get to share it. That makes things better, right?” At the very suggestion, Cordelia smiles and stares. Those eyes hold their usual amount of intensity, so dark, so wonderful. Misty loves the very sight of them, especially aimed in her direction.

“Sharing it sounds good.”

Misty's lips slowly spread wider, sure in their joy. They falter slightly just when there’s a respite from the ambient quiet, and her name is called through the wide hallways.

On reflex, she sighs. Not an unhappy sound, but certainly not jumping for joy at the idea of being distracted from this conversation.

“You ought to get used to that.” Cordelia’s lips twist, knowing.

With a pout, Misty sweeps a thumb over her fingers again and whispers, “you wanna go back to the swamp?” Her joke brings a twitch to Cordelia's lips.

She leans in, bringing their foreheads closer. “And do what there?”

“Not have to listen to Myrtle talk about borin’ stuff – I’m sure that’s her callin’. . .don’t know if I can handle any more talk over times and number and days and. . .hmm. . .” she trails off, head pulsing right behind her eyes. And Hawthorne's, and housing and meetings. So much to think about. Too much.

Cordelia blinks, scrutinizing the hesitance in Misty’s features. “So, you’re gonna hide away from Myrtle in the swamp?”

“Only if you’re comin’ with me.”

Her name is called again, louder this time. Inside, a wince makes its move.

“Well?” she starts coyly. “What do ya think?” More joking, and she feels lighter with ever passing word. “We can go and hide away for a while?”

Giggles flutter from Cordelia. “You are a bad influence.”

Her look solidifies in its appealing nature. “You don’t wanna?”

Hands come to sit on either of Misty's shoulders, turning her on the spot. “Go talk to Myrtle,” Cordelia laughs in her ear, “and then when you’re finished maybe we can consider it.”

Misty glances over her shoulder, appreciate just how near they are, how she can see every change on Cordelia’s expression, smell her sweet rose perfume. She’s intoxicating, isn’t she? Casting spells with softly spoken words. Enough to send Misty into a delirium for a few moments. “I’m holdin’ you to that.”

“Okay.” Cordelia laughs, nodding. Her teeth poke out to gently hold her lip, an action that Misty has noticed increasing more and more these days.

She is given an encouraging push. “She’ll be annoyed at having to wait.”

“Probably wants to bore me to death talkin’ about how to cleanse your palette again.” Her nose crinkles with humor, and Cordelia’s face softens. The touch that she holds on the other woman’s shoulder grows heavier for a second.

“Well, try not to use up all your lives.”

“I’m like a cat,” Misty decides, “I got at least another seven to go.”

Though Cordelia laughs at first, there must be a sobering moment, a realization, and a solemn air fills the space around them. “Go on,” she whispers, “I’ll be right here when you get back.”

A smile pushes through. She does make to leave, even though she knows where she’d rather be right now. But duty calls, she guesses. With the obnoxious drone of a fog horn.

The walk to the office is a short one. She’s sure Myrtle must be tutting impatiently under her breath, questioning of her whereabouts. Misty takes her time. The further she moves from the kitchen, the heavier her muscles become.

It could be attributed to her unwillingness, that slowing in her walk. Misty would be a fool to convince herself of such, ‘cause she knows her feelings in all their complexity. She recognizes the return of that knot in her tummy, how the small and fine hairs on her skin stand at attention.

Something isn’t right.

The telltale quiver hits her, steals her breath, and Misty suddenly sniffs up higher. Death. There’s no uncertainty there. Only, not quite.

Perhaps dying would be the more apt word. And the very taste of it in her mouth has her expression changing. Misty has half a mind to go back to Cordelia, to share this new problem with her.

She doesn’t. Not this time.

Pressing dry lips together, she stares at the invisible breadcrumb trail and follows it. Her magic surges within, pushing to one side, like it’s lost something. Something it desperately seeks in return. She is led by reasons unknown, feet taking charge. Not the first time, won’t be the last.

And when she finds herself stood before a door, hand lingering half way to the handle. It stops, unsure, just as she hears a heart beating that isn’t her own. Isn’t as strong, as forceful. In fact it’s barely a flutter, whispering a fading beat into her head. The same one that strings together a series of questions over the sudden pounding within.

Eyes focus, taking in every detail of the door before her. Ears strain, to catch all and any noises, and she readies herself with a quick exhale. She’s always trusted her gut. Now, it is wary. So Misty ought to be as well.

For good reason.

For the second she opens the door, she yelps out at the sight of a figure headed her way, one that brandished a small dagger in wrinkled hands.

Chapter Text

Misty is no stranger to being caught completely and utterly by surprise. She's literally been rattled from her sleep by some rabid members of a pentecostal church and tied to a stake; she's been chased from her modest home with the threat of angry bullets.

Another memory flashes before her eyes. A much younger her, blood coursing rampant through her veins, as her family had finally had enough of her, of her powers, and had blindsided her with an invitation to leave.

So yes, she's experienced, you could say. In this animalistic reaction – the fear, the floor of adrenaline, the way that her body priorities only the most important reactions. And as she spies the light bouncing from the knife, instincts kick in just like they always have.

The fight or flight response. Everyone has got it. But she has something a little more different to everyone else now. She has an awash of powers, a fortitude of magic, and it rises to protect her at all costs.

As her hand lifts defensively to block to unsuspecting advance, whoever it is gets catapulted backwards. Surged like a weightless leaf with a great gust of wind. No breeze can be felt in the humid room, but Misty experiences the pulsing of her powers at her fingertips.

She stared, wide eyed, at her attacker. The crumpled mess on the floor that erupts with panting noises, gargled half words from their hidden lips.

Misty is rooted on the spot for all of a few seconds, eyeing where the knife had clattered to the floor. Her hand moves once more, beckoning the object closer with a silent call. And it comes. With far more obedience and ease than the candlestick had during the seven wonders. A showing of how her powers have improved, just like the hunched and winded form that climbs onto their knees.

She blinks, mouth tightly closed and eyes dark in this defensive mode. Who could it be? What has she done to deserve such an attempt?

Such a question has been asked before, with no semblance of an answer. Sometimes things just are, and sometimes you got to accept that.

This mystery, however, remains short lived.

As the person, definitely a person now, with long, spindly arms, and a dark dress that had once fit on a toned body – that person makes to stand. In a weak manner, in a battle with themselves.

She studies them, even if the danger is still palpable in the air. One weapon maybe be safely held against her palm, yet they could be concealing another, right? And if there’s one thing Misty has discovered as of late, it is that the universe is awfully intent on killing her somehow.

A knife wound would be a new novelty to death. She feels sick as she looks down to the object, then as she glances back up and finds recognition in the perpetrator.

Beneath dry strands of white and drastically thinning hair is a woman that once intimidated the very halls of this place, a woman who killed and plotted, and clung onto the very powers that now reside in Misty.

Not all the power.

No, not yet. As she locks eyes with Fiona Goode, she can sense that fight is still there. The last flicker of fire is within her, and she’ll do anything to keep it from going out. Even worse, to get the full extent of it back.

Misty isn’t really sure just how the whole Supremacy works. It’d been explained to her numerous times by Cordelia. From what she’s gathered, it is a movement of powers, a transition almost, from one person to another. While one gains an untold host of gifts, the other fades.

And fade is such a gentle word, isn’t it? Like a wispy cloud fading into the sheer blue sky, or a shadow gently vanishing with the diminishing of the sun.

She looks to Fiona, and she doesn’t see fading.

Misty sees draining. Now in the room with her she can smell that approaching death like she’s catapulting herself into a wall of it. The stench is overwhelming, sickening. Not like any other dying soul she’s come across before.

Until she realizes, it isn’t like a soul. Just flesh. A host, exploited for all it’s got to give, Tarnished by the magic, and very much of its expiration date. She sniffs again – or past that date, so it seems.

“So, it was you after all.” Fiona, naturally, is the first to speak. A clear amount of effort but made anyway. Just for the opportunity to sneer and reach out for the nearby chair. With a set of wobbly legs, she makes her way to it and sits down. Heavy breathing fills the room, breaths that have a finite number.

Misty steps a little closer. “I – I thought you died.”

“What?” A sharp laugh is just as slicing as the knife that Misty holds. “You think you killed me the day that you stole my powers from?”

Her body tenses. “I never stole anythin’.”

Fiona languidly waves an arm, eyes rolling. She glances down to Misty’s hands and then reclines in the chair with a great exertion of dwindling strength. “Well, are you going to do it then?”

“Do what?”

“You really are just some dumb hillbilly, aren’t you?” she chokes on her own laughter, then shakes her head. Here, those few hairs move and Misty stares at the freckles and sunspots on the balding parts of her head. A feeling of dread is carried in on the wind and takes root inside of her, worsened when Fiona continues to speak in her forceful croak. “Kill me.” She sighs. “Don’t you want to? Don’t you want to feel all of those powers?”

There’s more?

Misty’s eyes widen at the sensational claim that what she feels isn’t at the peak yet, that those powers are still in early days. If anything, that makes her tremble some more.

She shakes her head. “I ain’t killin’ anyone.”

Fiona scoffs.

A moment is taken by the woman, where the tiredness reigns over her, where every wrinkle and loose bit of skin sits there uncomfortably to be seen. She is so gaunt, so fragile. “The second you completed the seven wonders, you began to kill me.”

That accusation stings. Yet, there is no denying those words.

She stands taller, more defiant. That’s what Cordelia had always said to do around Fiona; don’t let her know that you’re afraid, for she prays on that very emotion.

“You may as well finish the job.”

Wincing, Misty takes another step. Studying Fiona all that closer, trying to get her brain to put the puzzle pieces together. “Where have you been this whole time? Cordelia saw you die – she had a vision.”

The woman before her merely smiles; an act of pride and smugness, negated as her shoulders slump from too long keeping them upright. “I should have killed you myself.” She completely ignores the question in lieu of answering her own, “I shouldn’t have left it to some dumb little bitch.” Her lips twist up even further. “If only I had.”

Such lamenting doesn’t sit right with Misty, who snarls and furrows her brow. “You’d really kill someone. . .just – just to be the Supreme?”

“I killed Madison, didn’t I?” Fiona says, eyes moving back to the knife again with the hint of reminiscing caught in her eyes. Sunlight flitters over her skin, but does nothing to reduce its pallid nature.

“Was it worth it?”

That comes out bitterly. Such contempt for life deserves as such. Fiona is a cruel creature, perhaps suffering a fate befitting for that. And yet, Misty still pities what she sees.

Fiona crosses one leg atop the other, showing off the high and thin heels that she wears. Even on death’s door, she is overdressed for the occasion. “Oh.” She drawls, “it was always worth it.”

Misty’s eyes squint closer in a lack of comprehension.

But the gnawing pit in her stomach grows as Fiona points a bony finger her way. “You’ll see.”

“What are you talkin’ about?”

“Just you wait,” she says, “this power – it makes you want more.” For a moment, there isn’t this taunting, less of that wickedness that Fiona often does nothing to veil. This feels perhaps the kindest thing Fiona could ever do for her; offer a warning.

Misty gulps at the implication, at the future spelled out in so little words. And though she’s still wary, on edge from Fiona’s presence, she can’t help the question that sprouts from her lips.

“Is that what happened to you?” she frowns at how naive she sounds, almost idyllic in the idea that Fiona could have once been some close to good.

The woman’s smirk answers that question enough, but she supplies words, too. “This thing. . .it’s gonna eat you alive, kid.”

And though she may be the one on the cusp of fading, weak and fragile, Misty finds herself shuddering from a suddenly eerie cold.

She tenses her neck, takes on a far more stoic expression. After a beat, she makes her stand. “You’re wrong.”

“Am I?”

Misty’s forehead creases together. “Cordelia said – ”

Cordelia said,” Fiona mimics with an eye roll. “Look,” she sighs, her energy seemingly a roller coaster as she suddenly perks with the opportunity to bad mouth her child, “I wouldn’t hold much opinion of what she says. In case you haven’t noticed, she isn’t exactly the best at – ”

“Cordelia cared for this Coven even when you had run away from it,” Misty affirms with a pointed protectiveness caught in her eyes. “She cared for these girls, protected them, she did far more than you were ever willing to do and she wasn’t even the Supreme.”

She should have been, Misty thinks offhandedly.

“She might have made mistakes, but she is one of the best things to happen to this place.”

There. She hopes that Fiona truly hears that, understands just how wonderful her daughter is; regrets the very way that she’s treated her all these years. Though maybe regret isn’t in her repertoire of emotions, banned from the spectrum of what she feels.

For Fiona stares at her with no remorse whatsoever.

And that angers Misty even further. Family ought to care for one another, right? They should, they should. But hers never cared for her, and Fiona never did for her own child. Seeing it so clearly brings back the stinging of all memories, tugs out haphazard stitches where she thought they’d healed. Misty succumbs to the pain, but the rage of it all is what she truly drowns with.

It brings with it a swirl of magic within, a surge of intent. To protect those like her.

Only, this great swell inside of her grows more gargantuan and, with it, she sees just the connection she unfortunately holds with Fiona. This magic still lives within both of them, for now. As she grows, Fiona weakens. Nothing is more evident in that fact as the outburst has Fiona physically calling out in pain for a second. Like her very life force is being scorched from her body.

On instinct, she reaches forward. This may be a horrid, selfish woman, but Misty treats her how she would any dying individual, and hands gently reach out to support Fiona’s arm.

“Aren’t you afraid. . .that I’m. . .” Fiona pats dry lips together and flutters exhausted eyes, “going to try. . .and kill you again.”

A noticeable change in her demeanour, her body. She is paler, impossibly more withered, and Misty feels sick as she can already feel a growing strength of her magic.

“You’re not gonna kill me.” Misty whispers. Not like this.

And, just for a second, she does wonder if Fiona Goode ever stood a chance, or if the Supremacy was just a gift too seducing to resist.

The body under her touch sags. “Hey.” She gently shakes it, pausing to swallow a slow breath, “Fiona.”

She is so involved in the moment that she doesn’t hear footsteps headed through the doorway, or at first the distance voice calling her name. Her head is too clouded, making space for more magic. More than she’d ever dreamed of. More than she knows what to do with.

Misty feels the way that Fiona’s life force, soul or not, is taken from her mortal vessel. ‘Cause not only is she ever so comfortable with the sight of death, but that force lingers inside of her.

Like. . .like the Supreme magic took it, harvested it. A parasite, taking all it can from one host before attaching to the next unwitting suspect.

And that is her, with the magic nestled inside. She is the new host. One day she will be Fiona. Tears fill her eyes, fearful, disbelieving at what she’s got herself into.

Before strong hands are on her shoulder. “Is that. . .but how. . .?”

Cordelia. Her appearance brings about a sigh of something relieving, but carrying the weight of forlorn too.

Reaching for her mother, Cordelia manages to see the last flicker of life in Fiona’s dark eyes before they close for the last time. Her weight moves forward, almost in slow motion, and Cordelia is there to catch it first. Almost as though drawing her mother in for a hug.

From what she’s been told, these were few and far between for the pair. How cruel an irony that death is the act to bring them together as such. Misty blinks, her head spinning, lost to just too many thoughts. She watches Cordelia, steps back. As she does, her numb hands drop the knife where it freefalls elegantly into a noisy contact on the ground.

Cordelia, with perplexed tears in her eyes, glances between the knife and Misty, demanding an explanation.

She swallows the thickness in her own throat, and summons what words she can. “She. . .she. . .I’m so sorry, Delia.”

....

It’s all a bit of a blur, what happens next.

Where normally she’d find a lure toward death, this is one she can’t prevent or save. She finds she has to leave the room, for fear of suffocation from the smell. One that no one else seems bothered by (one that she remembers moments after only affects her, and always will).

She listens as others tend to the body, deciding what is exactly the right thing to do. As their former Supreme, does Fiona deserve respect, even in her death? Or as a belligerent and vile woman, does she deserve anything at all?

Sighing, Misty curls into herself, expecting a shade, a tremble, but finding stillness in her bones.

Eyes cast straight ahead, she all but burns a hole into the fancy floors and replays the last few moments over and over.

So deep in her own world, she doesn’t hear approaching footsteps, or her name spoken in testing. She does, however, feel the seat next to her dip.

“Are you okay?” Zoe asks, concern evident in the deepest parts of her eyes. Not that Misty is looking to them right now; she continues to scowl at the floor.

“Misty?”

“Hm?”

Zoe pauses, though does let the slightest but if impatience pass through with her question. “I said, are you okay?”

She shrugs. “Just wasn’t expectin’ it, is all.”

“What happened?”

The pushing for more has Misty closing her eyes, frown pushing further against her mouth. “I dunno, she tried to kill me, but I – she. . .you saw her. . .she ain’t exactly in peak condition. . . .”

Her own words move about her head, where she realizes her use of the present tense. She cringes a little. “Guess she’s gone now.”

“How was she even still alive?”

Misty eyes Zoe for just a second, sighing loudly to try and emit all of her troubles. “I dunno – she must have done some magic, made us think she was dead an’ – ”

“No.” The brunette beside her interruption, eager to correct the miscommunication. “I mean, how was she alive? Like, physically? She looked awful. She looked sick, awfully sick.” Drawing back a little, Zoe allows the gravity of it all to pull her down. “Is that what the fading looks like?”

Misty turns away, unsuspecting tears in her eyes.

Not tears for Fiona, for the situation, but strangely, tears for a future that could be. Most likely will be. Because this is Fiona now, haggard and dead in the greenhouse where they moved her to, but what about when one day it is her?

Fingers absently play with the ends of her golden hair, cherishing it. They touch her soft and supple skin, smooth over the muscle beneath.

Misty has never been frightened of dying. Yet that – Fiona’s fate – is enough to root the most trying of worries inside of her.

She hurriedly wipes at her eyes and clings onto her composure. “Delia knows more about that sort of stuff than me.” Misty says honestly.

When she finally turns back around, she finds something strange in Zoe. Something she can’t place. She seems, annoyed almost, even if Misty doesn’t understand why.

For a long while, the room is quiet, until a rather prompt question has Misty nothing short of seizing on the spot.

“Did you kill her?”

“What?”

Zoe shakes her head. “I just – there was a knife. . .and we all know what Fiona did to Madison, plus her old Supreme. This magic makes people crazy, right?”

“An’ you think I killed an old woman to get the last of it?”

“. . .you might have.”

Misty scoffs, resisting the urge to walk away, yet above them are the portraits of the many Supremes. For some reason, she fears leaving, fears the judgement of running from their watch. She doesn’t tell Zoe this, nor does she move. “Fiona just – she just died.”

That seems enough for Zoe, and the questions stop mostly, even if another “you’re sure you’re okay is thrown in there?”

Misty bites her lip, nods. Though flinched at shadows that cross the threshold of the door.

Only Myrtle and Cordelia. Relaxing once more, she locks eyes with the younger of the two woman, glancing down to her hands. “What's that?”

“It’s tea.” She smiles, then leans in nearer as it is placed on the coffee table before Misty. “With a little something extra,” she half grins, “I’m guessing you’re still a little shaken.”

Though she doesn’t deny that, the first sip of that wonderfully warm drink coats her insides with a calming buzz. Almost like an embrace from the inside.

She hastily goes for another gulp, watching as Myrtle quietly excuses Zoe from the room.

That is just a passing notice, as Cordelia continues to stare at her, replacing Zoe in that spot, and hovering by her side.

There is so much to say and yet, nothing at all. Misty doesn’t know where to start, what is most important, and instead looks to the wisdom of the more experienced witches. Myrtle is the first to talk, as always. It seems her mind is an endless factory of sentences, pushing out words like they might just go out of fashion.

She sits by the piano, occasionally glances to the keys as though they wait for her to play our another morose tune to meet the atmosphere of the room. Misty sits and listens, expression blank as the semantics of security are discussed, house safety, Misty’s safety and, above all, the fact that Fiona Goode is finally gone.

“And here we were thinking that she had already faded,” Myrtle speaks out for the room, voice grave.

Misty squirms on the spot, feels eyes on her.

She turns to follow them, to glance at Cordelia where she sees support in the woman. A concerned half smile on her lips, an attentiveness solely for Misty.

She’s not sure that she wants such focus. She wants quiet, she wants time; she wants to be alone with her thoughts and yet, she doesn’t want to be lonely. Conflict sits within her again, something she is growing accustom to. Why can’t things ever be simple? Straightforward? Why must her life be as complex as the intricate web of an orb weaver?

Misty refuses to let her next sigh free. As such, her chest puffs out more and her fingers dig into her palm.

Beside her, Cordelia inches closer. Watching intently – those gifted eyes don’t relent for a second, no matter how much Misty wishes she couldn’t be the center of attention, just for a moment.

“I guess it’s all over with now.” She drawls eventually.

Myrtle hesitates. “Of course.” Her face softens. “I never thought I’d see the day, in all honesty. But then again, the world has been wonderfully surprising as of late.”

She speaks with a spring in her syllables, a joy at the unfolding events. A person is dead, but she’s happy. This place is strange.

And with that same lack of contrition, Myrtle notices the time. “Oh, dinner is running late!”

For once, Misty’s empty stomach isn’t a cause for concern, but Myrtle speaks as though it is a grave travesty. It does, however, take her from their presence, removing the pressure of the conversation.

Or, most of it.

Misty thinks, just like she wanted to. Thoughts pointed inwards, a self exploration (another one). And Cordelia remains. That’s what she does, isn’t it?

She came here many, many years ago, a lost child. Through all the seasons of this Academy, she remained, through her marriage, her mother, through attack after attack, here she is.

Cordelia, if anything, is loyal, and that’s one thing that will always make her different to Fiona.

The longer they are alone together, the more Misty relaxes. “I’m sure you got questions – ”

“Nothing that I can’t figure out for myself.” She says wryly.

“I’m sorry,” Misty says again, downcast. “That was your mom – she. . .”

“Don’t apologize. Believe it or not, I’ve been working on making my peace with it. This is certainly a little bump in the road, but actually, seeing that. . .seeing her almost – well, human. Maybe that was a good thing.”

She thinks back, where the lasting image of Fiona remains. “It’s good?”

Cordelia meets her in the middle with her own question. “Did she hurt you?”

The woman shakes her head vigorously.

“Okay.”

Misty hesitates. “What would have happened. . .if she had killed me – would the magic have gone back into her?”

“Maybe,” she says, “or maybe it would have found someone else.”

That brings another boasting of questions, though Misty ignores them all. She lifts a hand to her head, where the pulsing seems to have vanished completely. It gives her food for thought, even if she blinks it away and turns fully to Cordelia. The woman has reached between them, caught fingers in hers, and holding them tightly. Though not tight enough for Misty’s liking.

She puts that action into her own hands and squeezes back, observes Cordelia’s reaction. Any visions that she has are usually quite obvious, but today there is no change in her demeanour. Her disappointment persists.

“Are you okay?” Cordelia asks tenderly, a different way to how Zoe had. “You look. . .” She inches closer, brushing their shoulders together merely by proximity “You know that you can tell me anything, right?”

“Well, that is why I chose ya to be my council.” Misty half smiles.

Besides that,” Cordelia says, “any troubles, any worries, you can tell me and I won’t share it with another single soul.”

It feels like a call out, as though Cordelia’s new set of eyes can penetrate Misty as such that all her inward ailments are clear. But what if Cordelia couldn’t help her? What if no one can?

“You wanna know all my secrets?” Misty jokes where that feels easier than dealing with the truth.

Cordelia raises a brow. “That implies that you have secrets in the first place.”

“Delia. . .”

“You can tell me what’s bothering you.” She insists, asks as such with the probing tone. Those eyes stare back, startlingly potent and, just as Misty had felt a connection with Fiona not that long ago, she now experiences the pang of the same with Cordelia.

Connected through magic, but in different ways. In ways that she doesn’t understand. “Your eyes are beautiful.” Misty says, sharing her wayward thoughts in a surprising burst of spontaneity. It has Cordelia frowning in confusion ever so briefly.

But Misty’s genuine could never be doubted, not for a second.

“Thank you, Misty.” She wraps lips around the words with a coy smile, “I have you to thank for them.”

Their hands shift slightly, though never stray from one another.

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

Misty’s gaze, however, does avert in different directions.

“This is only going to work if we’re honest with each other.” Strange, how Misty knows exactly what Cordelia’s words pertain to, while it feels like something else completely. As she returns crystal clear eyes to the woman, she seeks a vulnerability there, finding it instantly. People don’t do that – they’re not vulnerable, they’re not honest. People wear masks, and those masks are whatever they want them to be.

Not Cordelia.

Not right now.

Misty looks to her, to those eyes, and a shift happens inside. Like the continents moving, a seismic crash, and the waves of emotion push through her. Before she knows it, tears are back. “What if I end up like her, Delia?”

She doesn’t have to say the name. She doesn’t even have to utter it.

“Never.” Cordelia says strongly, with conviction. “You have to stop – ”

“What if this magic is gonna change me?”

“Misty – ”

Her eyes closed, muscles more tense. “Did you not see her? Didn’t you see what it did to Fiona? She was – she. . .” Misty gulps, staring down at their hands and feeling the swirl of magic within.

As her own dismay rises, the magic counters. It isn’t an innate part of her, it is foreign, strange. Stronger. She needs to find a way to invite it in without being inundated, right? To merge rather than usurp. But she doesn’t know how to.

“I feel different.” She whispers, the back of her throat dry from none other than the presence of tears.

Cordelia blinks at that confession. “How?”

She shakes her head, trying to speak but losing all words. “. . .I. . .”

Reaching up, the older blonde gently cups Misty’s chin. Gentle, just like she always seems to be lately. At the welcome touch, Misty closes her eyes and suddenly realizes her own tiredness. Truth be told, she hasn’t been sleeping all that well, kept awake by thing she’s doesn’t understand. That seems to be the growing case these days.

“Are you okay?” Cordelia repeats, whispering too, holding her chin slightly angled upwards, and holding her gaze like so few things can. She is mesmerising, even in her concern.

Misty wants to do so many things. Figuring our just how she feels should be top of that list, making sense of her day, the day after (and the never ending sequence following). She wants the swamps, the calming of nature, she wants freedom from responsibility, pressure pulled from her shoulders. For the lump in her throat to melt, to trickle into soft and smooth skin rather than a painful prickling.

Most of all, she wants to kiss Cordelia. That, just for a second, could fix all those other problems.

So she does.

Pushing that hand softly out of the way, she gives in to the demanding whim. Presses lips against one another, foreheads flush, and lets herself be overwhelmed by the excitement of it all. A giddiness that seems ill fitting given the circumstances, a joy that resides in her every bone - this feels right, this feels like something she could do for ever and ever. Have sweet lips held against hers, the warmth of Cordelia, the hesitant puff of breath.

Misty opens her eyes, and realizes Cordelia isn’t kissing her back.

She remains still, far too statuesque, confusion chiselled intoned features.

As she settles back into the light of the situation, Misty feels the weight of all her problems still, knows that kissing Cordelia hadn’t helped, albeit added a delay. Yet now she’s added a further issue; the worry that the woman displays.

“I’m sorry.” Misty draws back, licking lips nervously over where they now taste like Cordelia’s. Oh, there’s pain at that, but pain is sometimes best felt fresh.

She’s attempting to wriggle away, to find an excuse as she why she did that. Cordelia herself had done something similar, something bold and daring, with no understanding of why.

“Don’t – ”

“I shouldn’t have. . .” Misty says, knows. But she'd enjoyed every second of it, she yearns at the idea of kissing Cordelia once more, even in the face of rejection.

Hands hold her forearm now, preventing an escape. “Misty, listen – ”

“Delia.”

“Let me – ”

The battle continues, both as stubborn as the other. “I get it, okay?” She doesn’t. Misty feels like she doesn’t understand a damn thing those days.

Cordelia stands as she does, a flash of panic through her eyes. “It’s not that I don’t want to kiss you!” She admits, maybe louder than she’d expected.

And the room falls quiet; even the clock face shuts up to listen to what Cordelia has to say next.

“I do.”

Misty’s breath hitches.

“More than you think.”

“Then why. . .?”

“Just this. . .everything. . .you need to focus on the Coven,” she blinks, voice thick. “Not on me.”

“Why can’t I do both?”

Cordelia gives her a look, eyebrow peaked. A rather withering expression. She knows what it means, what she’s trying to convey. That it’s one or the other, that’s just how it is. How it has always been. In all the things Cordelia has shown her, Misty doesn’t recall a single married Supreme, one with a significant other.

A lonely life.

Misty is no stranger to loneliness; it has guided her through life, though everything. She thought she could shed its presence, shake it away.

But now she fears it will always shadow her movements.

No.

No, it won’t. She is the Supreme, isn’t she? Se gets to make the decisions, not some sinister feeling that leeches from her soul.

She locks her jaw, embracing her decision, her choice. She’s not going to be like all the others, like Fiona. She never will be. She isn’t going to let this Coven take everything from her.

With that definitive answer in her head, Misty sucks in a deep breath. The void between them is easily crossed, arms lifting up and sweeping around Cordelia’s neck.

She kisses her again, like she means it, ‘cause she does. Oh how she does. I’m not going to be like them. When the initial shock wears off and she feels Cordelia burst into action, soft lips pushing back against her, she smiles into the kiss.