The Wotch of Westmorland

by Schol-R-LEA;2
started 8 Feb 2005
Last modified 14 Feb 2005

Anne Onymous, Robin Ericsson, Jason Grey, Milo Happerbasket, Katie McBride, Samantha Wolfe, and Melleck Xaos are all property of the real world Anne Onymous and Robin Ericsson (or whatever their truenames are). I hope they don't give me grief for borrowing them. Inspired by the folk song "The Witch of Westmorland", by Stan Rogers.

I would like to thank my consulting witch, Atalanta Pendragonne, for helping me fill out some of the details of spell preparation, as well as my other beta readers, for helping me correct my mistakes and polish my prose.

By the time Anne finally managed to turn the golem to sand, Jason had passed out, and blood was seeping through his pants where his right leg had been broken. Robin was already next to him, and apparently had the presence of mind to try and use the only available cloth - his shirt - to stop the bleeding on Jason's temple. Anne rushed to her two friends, mind racing to think of the necessary healing spells. Standing next to Robin with his shirt off wasn't helping her concentration.

Focusing, she eased the bone back into place and sped up the process of it knitting as best as she could. She fumbled in purse for some yarrow to press against the open wounds; it should make the spells more effective. She wasn't sure what to do about his head; she was able to determine that there was no fracture, but she didn't know of any way to detect concussions. "Oh, breadcrumbs," she muttered, then turned to Robin and said, "I just don't know enough to fix the rest. We're going to have to get him to the hospital, I think." She pulled out her cell phone and started dialing 911.

After she'd called for the ambulance, Robin said, "How are we going to explain what happened?"

Anne thought for a moment, and then said, "Maybe we can tell them it was a skateboarding accident."

"No one's going to believe that. Jason doesn't even own a skateboard."

"That I can take care of. We just need to make sure to be there when he wakes up so that we can get our stories straight."

When Anne finally got home that night, there was an edge to her nerves despite her exhaustion. She was still bothered by the fact that she hadn't known enough to heal Jason on her own; but more, she was worried about what would have happened if the fight had taken longer to finish. What if he'd been too badly hurt, and she couldn't heal him at all? What if one of her friends died because she was too busy to help them?

She went to her bookshelf, and pulled out every book on healing and protection spells she had. She piled them up on her desk, then opened her Book of Shadows to write down what had happened today, and take notes about what she found in the books.

Protection spells first; it was better to keep them from getting hurt in the first place. She wasn't as concerned about Katie or Wolfie; anything that could hurt a lycanthrope (well, ailuranthrope in Katie's case) would probably be beyond her ability to stop anyway. She looked instead for something that would keep Robin and Jason safe, preferably even if she wasn't there. It was rough going; a lot of the material was oddly phrased, and often seemed to be filled with peculiar circumlocutions. She got the impression that there was some powerful secret, some protective magic which the previous witches and wizards could only hint at. Even that old fraud Crowley - she didn't like reading something written by a Black Magician, but he knew a disturbingly large amount of useful stuff - kept dropping clues all over the place with the evil glee of a child taunting a sibling, but never seemed to come to the point. None of the books would just say it!

That is, until she came to one of her oldest books, the Books of Shadows of an old, powerful witch from 16th century Provence. She had only just bought it and hadn't had a chance to read it until now. However, despite the archaic French, the explanations were about as direct and clear as she could imagine. As were the diagrams, much to her dismay.

Her eyes grew wide in shock. You can't be serious!, she thought. But there wasn't any way to deny it; this was the secret the other books couldn't talk about. The answers fell into place like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

She giggled nervously, but inside she was utterly scandalized. She wasn't ready to deal with something like this!

It's the only way, said a scantily clad Natalie Portman on her shoulder, You can't turn away from your friends, can you?

But it would be wrong to do that just for a spell! cried a demure Carrie Fisher on her other shoulder.

Anne looked at the two in confusion, not quite sure which one was supposed to be good and which evil.

Ha! Forget that, Leia said, she's just your libido trying to turn this to her advantage. You aren't going to trust her now, are you?

Anne was a little surprised at this; she hadn't realized she was old enough to have a libido... no, that was silly. Jason was her own age, and he certainly did. She just never thought of it in those terms before. She realized she wasn't thinking quite right.

#*#@! you, Superego! said the tiny Amidala, who then blew a raspberry.

Such language, tsk'ed Anne's Superego. Who knows what kind of trouble you could get into following someone like her around?

Hey, aren't you supposed to arguing for her to do the right thing? She can't just leave her friends defenseless, can she?

There are other kinds of protection spells... Superego started.

But none of them are as effective! interrupted Libido. Besides, it's not as if you've never thought about it...

"Not with Jason!" cried Anne out loud.

Yeah, Libido said slyly, but what about Robin?

Anne suddenly shoved the book away from her, her blood pounding in her ears. She drew her arms around her as she shivered a bit. She sat there for several long minutes as she tried very hard not to think about Robin that way.

It was something she'd had a lot of practice at, lately.

She decided to go to bed early. But first she'd take a shower; she felt dirty from what she'd been reading. Yes, a shower sounded right. A cold one.

Still, the idea gnawed at her over the next few days. She did like Robin... maybe even more than like... but really, she'd only know him for a a very short time. She hadn't even gone on a date with him yet. Actually she'd never been on a date at all - she'd never me a boy she liked enough and trusted enough before. She didn't even know if he liked her the same way... that way, I mean, she thought hurriedly.

She wasn't a prude, or at least she didn't think she was. But she wasn't about to rush into something like that, no matter how important the reason.

Still, it wouldn't hurt to get some of the ingredients for it, would it? Just so that she had them, of course. She didn't need to use them, after all. It was just to have them on hand for when... she might use them. Later. Much, much later. Of course.

Besides, the spell had to be cast to be under the full moon, which just passed last week. Not that she was looking to do it that soon anyway. Right.

It took her a full week to get up the courage to go to The Magic Touch, and that only because she was out of eye of newt. Still, while she was here...

"Uhm," she stammered, thinking of the components of the spell in question despite herself, "I'd uh, I'd also like a few other things. I'd need, let's see, a tenth of an ounce each of ginseng, vervain, abd yarrow... about an ounce of powdered mother of pearl... some mandrake tincture... a cup of heather honey...," she hesitated, "I'd also need to order a small rowan-wood shield charm, and some silver chain forged under a full moon."

At these last requests, Milo's left eyebrow went up, and gave her an odd look. "Just what spell are you thinking of casting?" He finally said, in a voice that made it clear that he knew exactly what spell those things were for.

Anne sputtered a bit; her eyes hit the floor as her face tried to match the red of her hair, and her head withdrew into her shoulders like a turtle. "I... I just wanted to, well, have them around in case, uh..."

Milo gave a long sigh. "Listen, Anne," he finally said, "It really isn't any business of mine what you and Robin are up to..."

"Robin?", she squeaked, eyes coming straight back up to his. "What does he, I mean, I don't know what you're talking about!"

A sly grin crossed his face. "Whatever you say. Still, I couldn't miss that the two of you seemed to be be awfully close these days. As I said, it's none of my business... though Evan might have something to say about it."

"It's not like that," she blurted, "I don't even know if he likes me like that." She blushed again as she realized what she'd said.

"I think..." he sighed again. "I shouldn't tell you this, but that time that he came here looking for a spellbook - I still don't know where he got the one he found, by the way, it wasn't one of mine - I'm pretty sure that that he wanted to try and learn magic for you. From what Jason told me, he was feeling as if he was getting in your way because he didn't know how to help when that demon attacked you. I'm pretty sure he thought it would be a way to get closer to you."

With a dismissive gesture, he added, "But hey, what do I know? Still, if you are think of doing... anything... Well, if I were you, I'd want to be sure I knew what I was getting into."

"Especially," he said in slightly amused tone, "Since I know you can't afford that silver chain."

In a way, the fact that she couldn't cast the spell yet even if she wanted to was something of a relief. She hadn't realized just how seriously she had thought of it until then. It was, she realized, one of those silly ways people trick themselves into doing something they want to (she had to admit that now) but knew they shouldn't.

Still, there was something she needed to do.

She rang the doorbell, and a few seconds later Robin showed up. "Hey, Anne," he said, "What're you here for?"

"I was just wondering if you wanted to go get some pizza," she said, noncommittally, "I just figured that we could hang around and talk for a while."

"Oh, yeah, sure thing." He hesitated for a moment, then asked, "Did you want me to give Jason a call and see if he's up to it?"

"No, that's OK, it can be just the two of us for once."

A sheepish grin crossed his face for just a moment, then he said, "Let me grab my jacket."

They were good friends, she knew. Maybe they could be more than friends, but not today. This wasn't even really a date, after all. But as Robin stepped out and she took his hand, she decided that this was enough for now.

Observing this from his dark throne, Melleck Xaos was Not Pleased.

It seems that the young Wotch had taken the first steps towards choosing her Worlock. This will not do at all...