Akko dropped into a large comfortable chair, her books spilling across her lap, as she tilted her head back and groaned. Her day had been terrible, starting with sleeping in so late that she had to scoop up her books in a hurry, cramming a baked potato in her mouth as she tried to get to class on time in order to avoid another detention. The day hadn’t gotten much better after that, with a mix up during her presentation in magical history leading to her having to do extra work to make up the grade and two of the witches from the blue team laughing at her during potions class and throwing snide remarks at her.
Studying at Luna Nova, Akko decided, was much different from how she imagined. She hadn’t made any progress with figuring out any of the other 7 words and was no closer to finding Chariot. She started to arrange her books, searching around for her notebook, groaning when she realized that she had left it in her room, banging her head back against the book shelf in annoyance.
A thud rang out as a few books slipped off the shelf, landing next to the chair, Akko mumbling to herself as she leaned over to clean up the mess. Her grumbling about the day ceased as she pulled a leather bound book from the small pile, tilting her head as she examined it. There was no title on the cover, and thumbing through the book quickly she couldn’t see any writing on it. The pile of books forgotten she started to inspect it closely. The book was very pristine, secured with a small buckle on the front. Why would the pages be empty, Akko thought, flipping to the front of the book, her eyes drawn to the only writing she had seen in the book, small printed letters reading D.C.
“Huh,” she said, looking around at the shelves, seeing if anyone was around, “since when have you been here.” Akko briefly remembered her notebook-less plight, looking around as she pulled out her pen. “Well can’t let this go to waste.” She started to take notes, trying to push through her tiredness to copy down potions ingredients. She grumbled to herself as she wrote, forcing herself to get down a whole page of notes on an invisibility potion, covering the whole page with notes and suggestions that Sucy had told her during class. She sighed, finishing up her last sentence as she pumped her fist in celebration.
She looked back down and her mouth went slack in shock, the page that she had just filled with notes was empty, her hard work gone. “No, no.” She said, flipping through the book frantically, “where are my notes?” With her question the page she was on filled back up with her notes, several ingredients and notes that she had underlined in red.
Akko’s eyes sparkled as she looked at the notebook, “wow,” she said softly, “You’re a magic notebook.” She flipped through the pages, trying to figure out if there was anything written inside, feeling more excited as she tried to find anything else. The rest of the notebook was empty, the only thing on it the page of notes that Akko took, still with words underlined or circled in red. She turned back towards her potions textbook, squinting as she noticed that all of the underlined words had spelling mistakes in them, or she had gotten the amount slightly wrong. “Wow…” she breathed out again.
Unable to contain her excitement she pumped her fist in the air, unable to contain a squeal of joy as she looked around the library furtively, leaning in to whisper to the book, “Can you understand me?”
She leaned back, watching for any sign to show up on the blank page, trying not to blink for any sign of anything to show up. She held her breath for minutes waiting for any sign of an answer to show up. When nothing happened she sighed, her shoulders slumping forward. “I guess not as magical as I thought, but I’m still going to take you okay. It must suck being cooped up all alone in this library with no one around, magic book or not.” She said with finality, packing up her bag and slipping the new journal inside. She dragged herself off towards her dorm, unable to stop a yawn overwhelming her as she barely made it to her bunk, letting her bag fall to the ground as a few books spilled out. Akko was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow, oblivious to the fact that the journal had landed on the ground, the force of the drop opening it up, revealing a page with small printed words in neat handwriting in one corner.
'Yes. I can hear you. Thank you.'
Potions class. Nothing ever went right in potions class, Akko thought, its probably cursed. She looked over to one side, seeing Sucy bent over a cauldron that was billowing out a deep red color smoke, Professor Ludik joining her as they both seemed much too excited with what was brewing within and the bellowing smoke. Akko sighed, looking back to her notes, triple checking that she had all of the ingredients right. A crash over by Lotte distracted her, turning aside from her desk and rushing over to see if she could help her friend.
While she was distracted two girls moved over to Akko’s desk, whispering as they bent over her notebook. One waved their wand over the page and the words began to rearrange themselves, spelling out new ingredients as the two could barley hold back laughter over the pages. One nudged another and they raced back towards their deck, watching as Akko walked back, both laughing and waiting for her to follow the new instructions.
Right before Akko was about to sit down and refocus on her potion the page shimmered, the notes instantly rewriting in the flash second before Akko turned back to her list. Akko re-read her notes, letting out a small huh, “guess I missed a few things,” she said to herself, tossing a few extra things into her cauldron. The saboteurs held their breath, waiting for the potion to spew noxious fumes. A few seconds went by before a pleasant smelling green smoke wafted up from the cauldron, Professor Ludik walking by and stopping by the Japanese students bench.
“Good work,” she said with a brief nod, continuing to walk past and stopping by Hannah and Barbara’s desk. Her nose curled as the two young witches suddenly realized that their cauldron was spitting out large droplets that were causing anything that it hit to smoke. The two witches paled as they frantically tried to clean up anything in their area.
Oblivious to the chaos happening behind her Akko was basking in the glow of getting praise from a professor, reaching over to give her notebook a light pat, “You're my new good luck charm,” she said, turning back to her potion as she smiled to herself.
Those words would turn out to be prophetic, as Akko seemed to breeze through the next two weeks. Her grades seemed to be improving, and even though she kept getting into trouble, some of her professors were starting to give her more credit. She had figured out one of the seven words and was closer than ever to finding Chariot. Yes Akko was riding on a cloud of success, right up until the first day of flight practice.
Akko pushed through the door of her dorm, her uniform covered in mud from her several unsuccessful attempts to fly. She sighed as she fell back into her chair, looking over towards her desk which still had her homework open. She put her head down on the desk and let out a low groan.
“Why can’t I fly,’ she said glumly, her mood clearly low from an afternoon of failures. She felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes, the stress of the day getting to her, “I mean I know that I wasn’t born a witch, but I’m learning. Everyone else got to learn magic from when they were a kid, I just got here.” She said, starting to rant as she let out all of her troubles to the empty room.
“I just want to be like Chariot, I want everyone to look at magic and be happy, not be constantly looking at books and talking about being proper with magic. Magic is supposed to be fun and you are supposed to love magic, but everyone here just doesn’t like that, or Chariot.” She sighed, idly flipping through her notes while she thought, “I just want to be a great witch.”
With another sigh Akko moved to close her book, hoping that a night of sleep would help clear her mind, when she saw something move on one of the notebook pages, flipping the book back open and watching as writing started to appear at the top of a page.
'I think you are already a great witch Atsuko.'
A small smile appeared on Akko’s face after she read the words on the page, placing the notebook back on her desk. “Aw thank you book, that was really nice of you.” She said getting up and walking towards her bed before she froze. She spun around so fast that she almost fell down, her mouth open in shock as she scrambled back towards her desk, slamming both hands down on the wood, “You can talk!” she yelled.
She held her breath, hoping that what she saw wasn’t just her mind playing tricks on her, after a moment the previous words reappeared and new ones started to appear underneath it.
‘Yes I can speak, and hear you, my apologies for not speaking up sooner, but you seemed so down and not yourself’ the book wrote.
Akko’s face softened into a smile, taking a seat and propping up the book so that she could see it, “Thanks,” she said softly, “I needed that.” She paused for a moment before a look of realization flashed across her face, “Wait you’ve been helping me with my homework haven’t you.”
‘I have, but only for minor mistakes, I did not want to do it for you.’ The book wrote.
“Thank you anyway, it really helped,” Akko said, “But how can you talk, can you understand everything outside your book, are you a person, what should I call you because I don’t think I should just keep calling you book.” The words spilled out of Akko’s mouth, the excitement of finding something magical overwhelming her previous negativity.
There was a pause for a moment, before the words started to flow across the page again, ‘I can hear everything from outside the book but I cannot see, and I know everything that was written down in the book.’ There was a longer pause, almost as if the book was hesitant to continue. ‘I used to be a person, before I got caught in this book. My name..’ The ink trailed off at that, Akko waiting on baited breath for the book to continue.
‘My name is Diana Cavendish.’
“It’s nice to finally meet you Diana,” Akko said, putting forward her hand before taking it back and rubbing the back of her neck, “Heh, I guess you can’t shake hands.”
‘I cannot,’ Diana said, ‘however, It is nice for someone to treat me like a human again.’
The response sobered Akko, her mind turning the facts over in her head. “How long have you been stuck in a book,” she said hesitantly.
The pause this time is long, Akko almost telling Diana that it was okay to drop it before the words started to appear again. ‘I.. I can’t remember. It has been too long, and I stopped counting days, for a while I was able to attend classes, but then I was lost. I did no think that anyone would find me again.’
A motivated look overtook Akko’s face, inwardly her heart ached for this poor girl who had been stuck in there for that long, “I’m going to get you out of that book.” She said determinedly, nodding to herself, “I promise you that.”
‘Thank you.’ The words stayed on the page as the previous writing faded, Akko giving a small grin at Diana.
“I guess you must be pretty tired huh,” she said, unable to stifle her own yawn, “Me too. Tomorrow we can go to the library, and Professor Ursula, she always helps me out.” She smiled as she started to get up from desk, noticing that nothing else appeared on the page.
“A bit shy huh,” she said, gently setting down the book as she started to get ready for bed, throwing her muddy uniform into the laundry bin as she settled down into her bunk, “That’s fine we can talk tomorrow when we are looking for a cure.”
The room fell silent for a while, Akko slowly drifting off to sleep. As her eyes blinked slowly to stay away she let out a large yawn, “Hey Diana,” she said sleepily, “Thanks for telling me everything.” Silence followed her words as she fell asleep.
The book was left open on the desk, the words left on the page slowly disappearing, leaving a calm blank page that masked the inner turmoil that Diana was feeling. Her mind was racing and she felt like if she had lungs she would be hyperventilating, her mind shakily jumping from thought to thought. Someone was actually offering to help her, she thought, a sliver of hope worming its way into her chest. A small dark part of her pushed back, reminding her that she had been alone for so long, that no one else who had found her had wanted to help, even those who figured out who she was. Diana cringed internally, trying to wrestle through her thoughts, hoping to herself that Atsuko would be different.
The sound of her roommates moving around the room woke Akko up, blearily stirring from sleep as it took a few minutes for the events of last night to set in, she had met a new friend, and had discovered more magic at Luna Nova. She rolled out of bed and bounced up, greeting her roommates, Sucy giving a curt nod from her desk, hovering over her mushrooms, and Lotte giving a cheery good morning from her perch on her bunk, already half absorbed in her book.
Akko seemed to pause for a moment, remembering that today she had a mission, bursting into action as she pulled on her uniform, barely stopping to tie her hair up before grabbing her book bag from the desk before lifting up Diana’s book.
“Good morning,” she repeated again, her roommates turning towards her quizzically, Akko looking back at the two of them with a cheery smile, “We are gonna be in the library, we’ve got a puzzle to solve.” She said, grabbing the Shiny Rod as she bolted out the door, Lotte and Sucy meeting eyes afterwords.
“We?” Lotte said, looking at Sucy for answers. The purple haired witch just shrugged her shoulders, turning back to her desk as she passed it off as Akko being Akko.
Striding confidently into the library Akko made her way towards the the filing system, a huge corridor with boxes of calling cards on them. Propping Diana’s book up on one of the shelves she turned towards the book.
“Okay,” she whispered, “I had to sort through all of these for detention once so I know how to find stuff in here. We just have to figure out what we are looking for.”
‘Well we could start by looking for curses, or accounts of people trapped in objects’ Diana said.
“Okay good idea,” Akko said, starting to pull over a ladder and looking up trying to find the right box. “But what about you.”
‘What do you mean about me?’ Diana said, the writing slow and almost hesitant across the page.
“If we look for your name or anything you can remember we can try to figure out who did this to you and maybe we can find them.” Akko leaned the ladder against the hallway, leaning on it as she turned towards Diana. “Wait do you know who cursed you?”
Writing started to appear on the page, words getting struck out and rewritten before the words took shape, ‘I am not certain. I have an idea but I cannot tell for sure.’
Akko frowned as she started to climb the ladder, moving over to a few of the boxes as she started to rifle through small folders, pulling two out of nearby boxes as she slid back down to a stop by Diana. She propped up Diana’s book against a bookend she put the two folders down, the neat labels on them reading; Curses, objects and Cavendish.
Flipping open the folder labeled with Diana’s family name Akko looked over the titles, listed down on the page, muttering to herself before she turned to Diana, “What book do you think would work the best Diana?”
‘I am not sure’ Diana said, a small pause before she continued, ‘Could you read the titles to me and I might know.’
“Oh right, heh, I forgot that you couldn’t see anything, sorry.” Akko said abashed, clearing her throat as she started to go down the list, reading off books about Beatrix Cavendish, the nine old witches, and magical healing before she stopped on one. “Oh, a history of the families of the nine old witches. That should work.” She said, copying down the information into the journal, pausing for a moment as the information sunk into the page and disappeared, realizing that she had been writing down her school notes and doodles in a living book.
“Um Diana,” she said, fiddling with her quill.
“Should I be writing in you? Since you are a person, kinda, but also a book. I don’t know what to do about that.” Akko said, shuffling from foot to foot. “Also you can call me Akko, everyone does.”
‘I would like it if you kept taking notes with this book.’ Diana wrote, ‘I quite like learning all of the new things and classes. I am quite enjoying your notes on aquatic language.’
“Oh good,” Akko let out a sigh of relief, moving over to the other folder as she wrote down a few locations of books on curses, “You have been a super helpful study partner.”
‘I am glad to be studying magic again.’ Diana said, ‘It has been a while and I want to keep my knowledge up to date if, or when I get my body back.’
Closing the folders Akko turned and looked at Diana, not bothering to clean up as she reached out and took the book, staring into the open pages, “We will get your body back Diana, I promise. Now come on,” she said, her determined look curling into a smile, “We have books to read.” She held her hand up in victory, pausing for a moment as she posed, getting no reaction from her new friend.
“Yeah I didn’t feel that either.” She said after a few moments, dropping her pose.
‘It was a good attempt Akko.’ Diana said, the Japanese witch letting out a giggle as she started walking into the rest of the library, asking Diana to pull up the information on where the books were as they traveled the rows of shelves, eventually leading to Akko precariously balancing a large stack of books by the time that she reached one of the large back tables, putting the stack down and shaking out the strain from her arms.
“Whew,” she said, sitting down and re-propping up the book, pulling over the dark green book labeled The Nine Old Witches: A Family History. “Okay, now we see what we can find in here.” She flipped over towards the back of the book, skimming through the index as she mumbled the names.
“Found it!” she stage whispered, making one of the witches at a nearby table turn and give her a dirty glare, “Sorry, sorry.” She waved apologetically,. “Okay I think I found something,” she said flipping through the pages before she landed on the page she was looking for, a section on the modern history of Beatrix’s ancestors. “I’ll read this aloud,” she said starting in on the paragraph at the top of the page.
“At the turn of the century the Cavendish household experienced to tragedies back to back. Firstly the death of the family matriarch Bernadette Cavendish during the start of the Spanish flu epidemic in 1917, sending the household succession into chaos. Eight years later her only daughter Diana Cavendish vanished from Luna Nova, search parties sent out to try to find the young Cavendish returned unsuccessful. The Cavendish line was survived by Daryl Cavendish..” Akko trailed off, staring at Diana in shock.
Silence fell over both of them before she hesitantly started back up, “That would mean you got cursed in 1925.” She said, leaning back and letting the history book fall closed.
‘How long Akko?’ Diana said, the silence continuing after her question, the writing frantically picking up again. ‘How long has it been, I need to know.’
Akko put her head down, staring forlornly at Diana before whispering out her answer, “95 years..” She said. A long silence overtook the table, Akko idly flipping through some of the books that she had stacked around her. Her head kept looking back at Diana, waiting for words to appear on the page, each minute of silence causing her to fidget more in place.
Right before she was about to speak up and try to comfort the girl she noticed words starting to slowly write themselves, Diana seeming very slow and hesitant, like she was thinking about every word. ‘That is… longer than I had expected to be honest. Does the book have any other information about Daryl?’
“Diana are you sure you are okay?” Akko asked, “Cause I mean that’s a lot to learn in…” Akko trailed off as she saw words rapidly appear on the pages.
‘Just tell me’
Unable to refuse Akko turned back down towards the book, slowly looking it over as she looked at the following paragraphs, clearing her throat before starting to read again, “After years of mismanaging the estate, Daryl Cavendish was forced to relinquish everything to the historical preservation society, who bought Beatrix Cavendish’s estate.”
Akko glanced furtively over at Diana, trying to focus on reading the information but continuously checking to make sure that she was doing okay, she didn’t want to cause her new friend too much stress just a day after meeting her. She sat in silence, waiting for a response as she tried to distract herself, even pulling out her phone for a bit, growing concerned as an hour passed with no words appearing.
“I guess it’s a lot to take in,” she said, trying to keep the mood up, “But we can fix it, I have the Shiny Rod, and Chariot always said that you can do anything that you believe in, and I know everyone would want to help you too, we can ask Lotte or Sucy or Professor Ursula.” Akko said, trying to cheer up Diana.
Inside of the journal Diana tried her best to push down her emotions, waves of sadness hitting her as she realized how long it had been and how much had changed. Almost one hundred years, she thought, fighting against the urge to give in to her emotions and break down. Later, she scolded herself, later.
‘I have heard you mention this Chariot multiple times, Is she a powerful witch.’ Diana wrote. There, she thought, safe topic, just push everything away for now.
“Chariot is the best witch,” Akko yelled, forgetting that they were still in the library as she received a glare from the librarian at the front desk, shrinking down into her seat. “Chariot is amazing,” she whispered, making sure that she controlled her voice, “She made magic look so easy, so free. I knew that I was going to be a witch when I saw her magic show, she just had this way of making everything look so wonderful.”
Diana focused on the sound of Akko’s voice, her excited rambling helping her calm down as she found her thoughts slowing down as she listened.
“One of the reasons I came to Luna Nova was to try to find Chariot,” Akko’s voice softened, “it’s my mission to try to bring magic back to the world, and tell Chariot how much she has done for me.”
‘Do you often go around picking up quests?’ Diana wrote.
Akko rubbed the back of her neck, “It’s kinda my thing, see someone who needs magic and help them out.” She said sheepishly. “And you don’t deserve to be stuck inside of a book, so if we can figure out how to get you out then I will help.” She said smiling, inside hoping that this would be her chance for her to learn more magic.
‘Well then Akko,’ Diana said, feeling a spark of hope, ‘We have books to read.’
Unable to hold back a snort of laughter Akko gave a mock salute and grabbed the first book from the pile, “See that sounds better when you say it.”