CINNAMON. CHARRED CEDAR. MILDEWED PARCHMENT. The smoke of a lit cigarette wafting through the open window. A bustling New Orleans street muffling the crinkle of the pile of paperwork in her hands folding over. Alone, anyone would find the flooding of their senses to be a distraction. For Corey, it was just another day in her office at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.
She flipped through the files for the brand-new addition to their collection of misfits. The pile next to her held the documentation of the other recently transferred students: Nan, Queenie, Madison Montgomery. The pad of her thumb skimmed the description of the newest girl's powers as she brought her cup of coffee— black, two sugars— to her lips.
𝟷𝟽 𝚈𝙴𝙰𝚁𝚂 𝙾𝙻𝙳
𝚃𝙷𝙴 𝙸𝙽𝚅𝙾𝙻𝚄𝙽𝚃𝙰𝚁𝚈 𝙼𝙰𝙶𝙸𝙲𝙰𝙻 𝙰𝙱𝙸𝙻𝙸𝚃𝚈 𝚃𝙾 𝙺𝙸𝙻𝙻 𝚂𝙾𝙼𝙴𝙾𝙽𝙴 𝙱𝚈 𝙲𝙰𝚄𝚂𝙸𝙽𝙶 𝙵𝙰𝚃𝙰𝙻 𝙷𝙴𝙼𝙼𝙾𝚁𝙰𝙶𝙴𝚂 𝚃𝙷𝚁𝙾𝚄𝙶𝙷 𝚂𝙴𝚇𝚄𝙰𝙻 𝙸𝙽𝚃𝙴𝚁𝙲𝙾𝚄𝚁𝚂𝙴 𝚄𝙿𝙾𝙽 𝙿𝙴𝙽𝙴𝚃𝚁𝙰𝚃𝙸𝙾𝙽.
𝙾𝚃𝙷𝙴𝚁𝙺𝙽𝙾𝚆𝙽 USERS: ONE.
𝚄𝙽𝙰𝚆𝙰𝚁𝙴 𝙾𝙵 𝚃𝙷𝙴 𝚃𝚁𝚄𝙴 𝙴𝚇𝙸𝚂𝚃𝙴𝙽𝙲𝙴 𝙾𝙵 𝚆𝙸𝚃𝙲𝙷𝙴𝚂 𝚄𝙽𝚃𝙸𝙻 𝚃𝚁𝙰𝙽𝚂𝙵𝙴𝚁𝚁𝙴𝙳 𝚃𝙾 𝙵𝙰𝙲𝙸𝙻𝙸𝚃𝚈.
The redhead sighed as she closed the manila folder and tossed it haphazardly against the other three files on her desk; another witch that knew nothing of their lineage. Corey wondered if their coven would soon die out altogether. When she was young, her mother would tell her stories of their ancestry— bedtime stories for when the tour bus felt less like home and more like a shuttle to nowhere.
The new girls never had the chance to experience the folklore. Their heritage. Tales of the true witches of Salem, the ones who fled to New Orleans in search of a new home to practice magic. The only member of their stitched-together coven that knew what a Supreme was, other than Cordelia and Corey, was Madison.
She had heard the tales of the musician in the 18th century, Selene Nicks, who reigned as the Supreme and took Marianne Wharton— the founder of the current witch safe-haven— under her wing as her protégé and eventual successor.
Corey hadn't seen much of the current Supreme, Fiona Goode, these days. The woman was always jet-setting somewhere, too busy to show face for a ragtag group of girls with stagnant powers. Her own mother warned her that she'd only see the Supreme if there was something Fiona needed. There was never a problem drastic enough to warrant a visit from 'the witch with all the power'.
The front door of the academy swung open. As it slammed shut, it shook the walls— and Corey from her thoughts. She pushed her chair out, standing from her desk. She adjusted her top and brushed off any eraser shavings from her jeans before looking up at the tall ivory colored walls, taking in a deep breath.
While it wasn't her job to welcome the new witches, Cordelia was away on business. This left only herself and the younger girls to welcome their newest addition. She exited her office, furrowing her brow when she heard a scream coming from the main hallway.
"O, dark father, we offer this flesh up to you, blood, life, and all." Madison's voice was muffled by the long nosed mask on her face, but Corey could still tell that it was her. She rolled her eyes, realizing that the girls were hazing the newcomer, and angrily hurried in their direction.
"Get the hell off me!" An unfamiliar voice called out, panicked and afraid. When Corey rounded the corner, she took note of the three hooded figures hovering over a girl pinned to the table. The one flailing frantically, trying to shake the hooded figures from her, matched the description of Zoe Benson. Corey watched with raised brows as the flames from the candles that surrounded the room grew larger.
"Ladies," Corey called out, leaning against a pillar in the doorway. "That's more than enough." Madison removed her mask in a huff. She rolled her eyes as she played with her hair, trying to do anything to distract from the fact that she had been the one to instigate the initiation.
"Jesus, Sabrina, relax." The blonde's tone was a combination of annoyance and boredom. Zoe's eyes darted from Madison to Corey, her expression quickly shifting from disdain to shock. "We're just messing with you."
"Holy shit. Are you..." Zoe started, pulling her knees into her chest.
"Madison Montgomery, movie star." Corey rolled her eyes. She didn't need to see the girl's face to know that she was smiling. It was ingrained in her voice, her favorite title to remind everyone she met that she thought she was somebody important.
"Shit," Queenie flipped her mask off of her face with the back of her hand, shaking her head. "When's the last time you made a movie, girl?"
"A-and you're..." Zoe added, turning to look at Corey. The redhead kicked off of the pillar, taking a few steps to join the rest of the group.
"Corey Nicks," she sent a smirk in Madison's direction, adding her own title to her name. "Musician, actress, daughter of Stevie, and an instructor here at the academy."
"And Madison's girlfriend," Nan chirped, her slight lisp growing louder as she removed her mask to reveal a cheeky grin. Madison's head snapped in her direction. The actress was a fish out of water, her panicked eyes only accompanied by a flexing jaw as she tried to find the right words to say in order to contradict the youngest witch. "I'm Nan, hi."
"It's complicated," Corey mumbled. Her glare burned a hole in the poor naïve girl who would surely become the target of an angry Madison if it was ever made public knowledge by anyone other than the actress herself. The battle with Madison's PR Manager already felt like pulling teeth after the first time their relationship was leaked; their cover up was more telling than the one-off source selling their private life to tabloids.
Madison let out a huff as she tossed her mask onto the table. She quickly looked down at her feet, defeated. No one was supposed to find out, but Nan used her clairvoyance to her advantage when it came to secrets. She should have known better than to expect the redhead to deny their relationship to the new witch.
"Zoe," the new girl sighed. She looked between the four girls in front of her. As her gaze fixated on Corey, her brows raised slightly.
"Queenie," the girl from before added, nodding in Zoe's direction. She was larger than the other two cloaked witches, both in height and stature. Her dark complexion directly contrasted the ivory walls behind her.
"So bored now," Madison rolled her eyes, looking back up at Corey. She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest as she shifted her weight from her heels to the balls of her feet. Corey anxiously itched her nose with the nail of her thumb, not sure how to continue the conversation. She wanted to reassure the blonde, but she didn't know if the girl even wanted to be shown affection after Nan's comment.
"So, is this all of you?" Zoe asked, still seated on top of the table. She rocked anxiously, her eyes scanning the group in front of her once more.
"At the moment," Cordelia chimed in from afar. She emerged from the hall that led to the kitchen, her blonde hair brushing against her shoulders as she held her head high. Corey's focus snapped in the direction of the older woman, her brow furrowed.
"Delia?" She asked, stepping away from the group. "I thought you were out of the office today?"
"I just got back," Cordelia replied, looking to Corey for a moment. The redhead nodded, acknowledging the older woman's comment, as the rest of the girls looked down at their feet. "Cordelia Foxx, Headmistress." She paused, her eyes scanning the group in front of her. There was an awkward weight suspended over the girls, an uncomfortable mixture of anxiousness and regret.
"All right, girls, there's a van full of groceries in the driveway that needs unloading." Zoe swung her legs over the edge of the table, standing up as Cordelia continued. "I'll show Zoe to her room, then we meet for midday gathering." When no one dared to move, Cordelia crossed her arms over her chest. Corey turned to see Madison rolling her eyes in frustration.
"Let's go," Cordelia urged. She sent the three young girls scattering with her sudden change in tone. Corey remained planted, leaning against the table Zoe was previously seated on. The headmistress smiled softly at the two girls remaining in the room. "Corinna, would you mind watching those three? I need someone to make sure they put everything away correctly." Cordelia asked, taking a step forward.
"Of course," Corey nodded, quickly running a hand through her curls. She turned towards Zoe briefly. "Hey, I'm sorry about all that." She sighed as she took a step forward. "Madison likes to treat this place like it's a sorority house. It's really the only entertainment she gets these days." Her tongue dipped out to wet her bottom lip as she shook her head, the sincerity seeping from her voice as she spoke.
"It's fine, really," Zoe replied, shifting her weight awkwardly. Corey pulled a coal colored cigarette out of the breast pocket of her shirt. She gave Zoe a soft smile before turning and heading down the hall to follow the direction of the other girls.
Once out of sight of Cordelia, she stuck the butt of the stick between her lips, focusing on the end for a moment to light it. As she neared the open kitchen door, she couldn't help but laugh at the three girls that stood in a huddle near the large van. She took a single step outside.
The moment her heel touched concrete, angry scolding whispers were replaced by an eerie silence. The huddle dispersed, immediately taking to the task at hand. The witches hurried past Corey as they pulled groceries inside, causing the redhead to swallow hard.
"Where did you even find these?" Corey asked, an attempt to break the tension in the air. She nodded to the cloaks and masks piled on the sidestep that led to the kitchen as she flicked the ash from the end of her cigarette away from herself.
"They were in a storage room," Nan responded quickly, grabbing a handful bags from the back of the van as she spoke. "Madison thought it would be fun to..." The blonde cut off the end of Nan's sentence, rolling her eyes.
"I may have come up with the idea, but you are the one who went snooping." Corey let out a dry laugh, her head nodding backward slightly as she turned to look between the two girls.
"I'm not mad, I was just curious," she said with a shrug. She brought her cigarette back up to her lips. Before Corey could even pull another drag from the stick between her fingers, Madison managed to take it from her hand. As their fingers quickly brushed against each other, a spark flickered at the point of contact; an electrical current shorting at the backs of the redhead's fingers.
"Rude," the redhead huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. Her gaze moved between Madison's hand which delicately held the black stick, and her light pink lips. The contrast between the two pulled more focus to the blonde's porcelain skin.
She was the human equivalent of an antique doll; small, frail, delicate, doe-eyed, and always made up to look like she belonged to be somewhere far more important than she currently was. "You could have at least asked instead of just snatching it from me." The blonde rolled her eyes, leaning against the wall next to Corey while taking a drag from the cigarette.
"When do I ever ask for permission?" Madison asked, arching her brows at the redhead as she let out a puff of smoke. Corey snatched her cigarette back, this time making sure she refrained from letting their skin touch in the slightest. She quickly pointed to the van.
"If Cordelia catches you not helping, my head will be the next thing in one of her greenhouse's preserve jars." Her brows pulled themselves upwards in concern.
"I like your head right where it is," a smirk crawled across Madison's lips. She sighed as she kicked off the wall. She walked backwards, her focus on the redhead as she continued talking. "But I also like it..."
"Madison," Corey warned, cutting off the rest of the girl's sentence. Queenie rolled her eyes, grabbing a handful of bags as she made her way into the estate.
"What, it's true," the blonde said with a smirk. She grabbed a single bag of groceries before turning back towards the entry to the kitchen. Corey rolled her eyes. "I'm helping," she wiggled the bag of oranges in the air, adjusting her stance to keep her stiletto heels from sinking in the dirt that lined the edge of the asphalt driveway.
"Just go," Corey sighed. She waved her hand towards the door. "There is no winning with you." Madison smirked triumphantly as she sauntered into the kitchen.
"You know," Queenie groaned as she walked back outside. "Cordelia is going to figure out you're playing favorites one way or another." She sighed as she made her way back to the trunk of the van. She grabbed two fists full of bags, shifting her weight as she placed a box of vegetables against her hip.
"I'm not playing favorites, Queenie," Corey sighed, shaking her head as she spoke with her free hand. "I treat you all the same way, no matter what our connections are." Queenie laughed, throwing her head back.
"Oh, sure," the girl said, sarcastically. "I don't see anyone else sneaking into your room at night though." She shrugged. A cheeky grin flashed across face when Corey couldn't help but let her jaw drop at the comment.
"Watch yourself, Queenie," Corey scolded. "I wouldn't want Madison to rag doll you." Corey walked towards the trunk of the van. She flicked out her cigarette before grabbing the last of the bags. She quickly closed the trunk, turning to face the snarky witch. "Go on," she prodded. She pointed towards the open door to the kitchen front of her. "And have Nan clean up these cloaks and masks and put them back where she found them before Cordelia gets even more upset about it."
"What, is Glinda the good witch going to throw a tantrum?" Madison asked, leaning against the kitchen island with a raised brow. Her lips arched upwards in a smirk, her tongue jutting out to wet the corner of her mouth as her brow twitched slightly.
"I wouldn't want to wait to find out," Corey responded, glaring at the blonde. She placed the bags down on the counter before running a hand through her curls once more. "Put these away and meet us in the parlor for the stupid meeting." She pointed at the groceries before pointing to Queenie and Madison, earning an eye roll from both girls. Before either of them could protest, Corey left the room. She headed towards the room the group had been in previously, finding Cordelia and Zoe already seated in front of the fireplace.
"In its heyday, the academy was home to as many as 60 girls," Cordelia continued as if Corey wasn't there, giving Zoe a quick history lesson on the building and their coven. "Over the years, those numbers dwindled." Zoe leaned forward, placing her clasped hands against her knees as Corey took a seat next to Cordelia.
"Why?" The new witch asked, furrowing her brow. Cordelia sighed, shaking her head.
"We're a dying breed, Zoe," the headmistress said. "Many of the families who knew they carried the bloodline made a choice not to reproduce. The others are sitting in front of you." Zoe fiddled with her fingers anxiously as she prepared to ask another question.
"So, what's a Supreme?" She asked, looking between Corey and Cordelia.
"An average witch is born with a few natural gifts," when Corey spoke up, Cordelia looked over at her with a soft smile, tilting her head. "But in each generation, there is one woman who embodies what some say... Is all of them. That witch is the Supreme." As she finished her sentence, the rest of the girls filed in, taking their respective seats around the coffee table.
"Are you the Supreme?" Zoe asked, locking eyes with Cordelia. Madison and Queenie couldn't help but laugh, which earned them a glare from the redheaded girl.
"No," Cordelia sighed as the other girls stopped laughing. "I'm like you. Just a witch." Corey could tell that the laughter hit a soft spot for the older woman. She placed a reassuring hand on Cordelia's lap, the blonde interlocking their fingers as she continued to speak. Corey could feel Madison's glare burning into the side of her head but she chose to ignore it. "And a teacher, like Corinna. We're here to help you identify your gifts and teach you how to control them."
"She means to suppress them," Queenie spoke softly, almost groaning at the idea of learning how to properly control her powers.
"Not suppression," Cordelia snapped, turning to look at the girl. "Control." Madison rolled her eyes, quickly turning to face Zoe.
"They think it's still the 1600s," She wiggled her head as she spoke, her attitude radiating off her.
"No," Corey sighed, turning to look at Madison. "Back then, our kind understood the dangers. Today, those with our gifts know nothing of their ancestry." Cordelia chimed in, squeezing Corey's hand once.
"Too many girls aren't lucky enough to have found us," she spoke with control and dedication, simultaneously putting Madison and Queenie in their places while trying to educate Zoe. "Or weren't identified in time for us to have found them. Like that poor Cajun girl just outside Lafayette a few months back. Misty Day." She sighed, finally letting go of Corey's hand to lean on her elbow. Madison relaxed in her seat at the sight.
"She wasn't much older than any of you. And she had a gift; the power of resurgence." Cordelia's smile could be heard in her voice as she spoke, pointing around the circle with one finger. "Misty could reach into that place between life and death and draw a soul back from the precipice, back to this side, back to life." Her voice was filled with more determination as she continued her rambling, proud to be able to teach this girl's unfortunate story to the group in front of her.
"To some, this appeared to be the God-touched power of resurrection." Cordelia paused for a moment, leaning back in her seat as she swallowed hard. "To others, necromancy."
"So, what happened to her?" Zoe asked, her brow furrowed in confusion.
"The same thing that's happened to witches throughout the centuries," Corey spoke up, looking down at her hands that now rest in her lap. She swallowed hard, finishing her thought aloud. "She was burned at the stake." There was a moment of silence around them as the girls looked down at their laps, nodding in affirmation.
"We are under siege, ladies," Cordelia spoke up, breaking the wall of silence around them. "Our way of life, our very existence, is always at risk." Nan took a quiet sip from her teacup, pinky up, as the headmistress spoke. Zoe looked between Corey and Cordelia with a slightly gaping mouth as she took in the information in a state of shock. "Know this or face extinction."