A/N: Since I discovered the 2017 version of The Worst Witch (some time in October), I've fallen in to the Hackle trap. Ideas kept popping in and out of my head. I am finally getting around to write some of them. Please do review, feedback is the way to help me improve, and I would really appreciate having your input.
This is going to be a collection of OS, which has become my favourite thing to write. This way, I don't have to worry too much about keeping up with my fics: I'm beginning to learn that writing long multi-chapter fics is really not for me, there's always something coming up and ruining my creative flow ^^'. For the next piece, I really need to do some research about satrapies in 4th century BC (you'll understand when I post it), so I won't be able to begin anything until at least two weeks. I'll probably do the accompanying Hecate piece in between.
Here comes the first of these OS, it is an introspective piece, set in 1870/1880-ish Yorkshire, in an AU world called Miss Cackle's Academy for Young Ladies, where they are all human. In this case, the OS is pre-Hackle confession. I've had some trouble trying to find the right tone for this, my first drafts were far too crafted for introspection. I hope this one is not so bad.
1. The fond remembrance of woollen socks
On this cold January morning, Miss Ada Cackle, the respectable Headmistress of the eponym Academy for Young Ladies, was enjoying the relative solitude of the early hours of the day. It had snowed quite heavily during the night, and a fresh white mantel covered the estate, aglow with sunlight.
The soft crunch of her sensible shoes on the snow echoed in the quiet, as the lone woman, all bundled up in layers of pink wool, revelled in the particular sort of peacefulness that such a crisp white morning brings. While Miss Cackle enjoyed the more rambunctious winter revelries of her excitable charges – snowball fights, snow wizard building and so on -, she had always preferred walking in the snow and letting her mind wander, free of the exhausting challenges of the day. Of course, as a young girl, that implied threading new paths in the snow, her twin in tow, or building snow castles, or making snow fairies. As she had grown older, however, whenever it had snowed, and she had wanted a quiet moment to herself, Miss Cackle had simply gone for a walk.
"There is nothing quite like the peace and quiet of a winter landscape" she thought "No accursed catastrophe to attend to, no children to manage, no staff, no sister, no familiar to bother me. And nothing to make me think of… Hecate?!"
As her bad luck would have it, the one person who had been occupying her thoughts more and more of late, seemed to have had the same idea: Hecate Hardbroom, her Deputy Headmistress and the Classical Languages Professor, as regal as ever in her blackwinter garb, stood over the little bridge over the half-frozen stream, her eyes lost in its clear depths.
Somewhere along the line, she must have been cursed, thought Miss Cackle, who had wanted to escape – if for a little while – what she knew to be the unequivocal truth: she who had always wanted what she could not have, wanted her Deputy. As she turned around, hoping for a reprieve from the surge of the well-known sadness which took her as soon as her eyes fell on Miss Hardbroom, she sighed mournfully, then swallowed with difficulty. The landscape itself, with its contrast between the white snow and the darkness of the trees reminded her of her friend's fair skin, of delicately arched eyebrows, of ebony locks forever enclosed in an impossibly tight bun. Contrast was the right word, she reflected, for Hecate Hardbroom herself, wasa study in contrasts. At first sight, she appeared as brusque and mysterious as her name suggested. She was always direct, could be downright harsh to the girls if she felt it was deserved – never cruel, though – she was also a strong disciplinarian with deeply ingrained moral values. Some people said that she made all the First Years cry on the first week, or that her one redeeming quality was that she loved teaching (although they could not tell you how they had noticed). They said that Miss Cackle herself was her complete opposite.
But, Miss Cackle thought, Miss Hardbroom was nothing like those fools described. In her friend, she had found loyalty, kindness, devotion, care, a strong bond. She had seen a deeply-hidden vulnerability, a need for human contact, kindness, gentleness, true friendship. It was probably because she had looked too deep in the fern-flecked chestnut orbs that Miss Cackle could not bring herself to approach Miss Hardbroom with the truth of her feelings. The truth of her wants and desires. Even putting aside society's outdated prejudices, it was quite impossible that the other woman might ever regard her with the same level of … admiration. God! Even when talking to herself, she was a prude! All fluff and no backbone, and she was not much to look at either. Too much cake and good food. Shaking her head, she sighed again, fighting the tears that prickled at the corners of her eyes.
And yet… thought Miss Cackle turning back to her friend's silhouette, every year since Hecate's arrival, she had managed to get her something that captured Ada's very self for Christmas. A book on European folklore and tales. A book on old women's remedies. A pink tinsel, and matching china. An embroidered cushion for Pendell, her black cat. And, recently, homemade pink woollen socks with teacups and saucers, hearts and black cats. Every year, the gift had been more intimate until it had gotten hand crafted. Maybe…
Miss Hardbroom suddenly lifted her head towards Miss Cackle, and her eyes widened almost comically as her face went through a series of emotions, seeing her friend standing there. Surprise, concern, pain, and something not quite definable, before settling on that soft look of affection, and that small smile, that was reserved just for the Headmistress. And for an instant, Ada forgot to breathe.