Bewitched: Chapter 1

Klara Elmqvist and Merichel Herman

It was dark that night, and cold, but Augustine Whitehorn didn’t register it as she led the way out of her home and across the grounds to where a spot had been cleared of grass and prepared for the ritual.

She stood to the side as her people placed the coffin on the ground and removed the lid as carefully as they could. Rhys Tanner’s body had been preserved over the past 250 years, but she still found it nearly impossible to look at him. He looked just as he had in life—ink-black hair and amber eyes that reminded her so badly of the whiskey he used to drink. Too much of it, she would add silently, but she would never say it out loud. He was beautiful too. She never said that out loud either.

She smiled to herself, thinking about how it felt to kiss him, and his smell, like coffee, cloves and whiskey. She missed him so much she could physically feel it paining her, like an ache in her heart, and this time she was going to bring him back.

Augustine closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, extending her arm in front of her and focusing as hard as she could. She could feel him rising in front of her, could hear her disciples stir behind her and then one of them shushing the others, quieting them down, so she could stay concentrated on the task before her. The tang of magic filled the air and she felt her heart leap. What if it works this time? She could feel her magic growing. Something was happening.

Suddenly, a roar echoed throughout the grounds. Her heart stopped. She knew where that was coming from. From her bedroom. There was only one person…

No. Goddamn it, Rhys. It’s working, stop it!

His roars grew louder and louder, they were turning into agonising cries now. She felt the body underneath her fingertips begin to fade, to rip apart. Her hold on him was loosening, she held on for dear life. Please Rhys, let me—let me… But she couldn’t hold on any longer. Her hold broke. The body fell back into the coffin, the lid slamming shut on it once more.

The screaming stopped.

None of the people gathered around her said anything. They didn’t dare. Augustine straightened, clearing her throat and turning sharply on her heel. “Excuse me,” she muttered, pushing past them to storm back into the house. “I have some business to attend to.

The moment she had disappeared, they lifted the coffin and carried it back to the shrine she had built centuries ago to hold it.

Meanwhile, Augustine stormed through her house, up the stairs, throwing her bedroom door open so hard the wood nearly splintered. She glared at the boy who had sunk down beside her bed, panting heavily. He didn’t so much as flinch as she entered.

How dare you?!” she hissed. “I was almost done! I was so close! I almost brought you back, and you—you—” She cried out as if too infuriated to express her feelings with words.

He just whispered, “S—sorry.”

She tried to keep up the guise, but her face softened at the pain in his voice and she sighed. She knelt beside him and said, a little lighter this time, “You know, if you could have sucked it up for a few more minutes, you might be alive right now.”

Rhys forced a laugh. “Glad to see you care so much.” He closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the bed, although Augustine knew it was purely for the illusion of being able to, for his head would have fallen through were he not holding it up himself. “You know I have been going through this for almost three hundred years, right?”

“And? You should be used to the pain by now.”

“Even if I am used to it, that doesn’t make it stop hurting.”

“It should.”

“It doesn’t. And you know you could have kept going, right? I can’t die again.”

Augustine, who had moved closer but still refused to sit beside him, shifted somewhat uncomfortably on her feet. “I know that,” she said stubbornly.

He grinned, squinting up at her. “Aww. You do care, don’t you, Gus?”

She glared at him. “I told you not to call me that,” she huffed, pouting with annoyance.

“I know.”

They sat in silence for a few moments before Rhys opened his mouth to say more, but he never got the chance. Someone knocked on the door—which Augustine had forgotten to close and had just realised how she must look, talking to empty air. Even if she was a witch.

One of her followers, who had removed her hood to reveal herself to be a twenty-something woman with mousy brown hair and a face somewhat resembling a mouse, had peeked into the room, smiling shyly. Augustine thought her name was Ester. 

“I’m… sorry to bother you, Miss, but there is someone here to see you. In the mirror.”

Augustine’s eyebrows furrowed. “Who?” She didn’t have any meetings, not that she knew of at least. Ester shook her head.

“He wouldn’t tell me his name, but he says it’s important. He said he will not speak to anyone else.”

Augustine and Rhys shared a puzzled glance before she strode toward the door, frowning. “Alright then,” she grumbled, “this better be important.”

Once she got downstairs, the woman led her to the living room where a man’s face had appeared on the mirror over the mantel. He looked bored, leaning back in a cushioned chair as he waited for her.

“Ah, there you are,” he said as she came into view, still scowling. He lifted himself up, leaning forward as if to get a better look at her. For some inexplicable reason, his grey eyes unnerved her.

Augustine’s eyebrows rose in what she hoped was a nonchalant manner. “Do I know you?” her voice coming out chipped and hard. This better be important since he had been disturbing her and Rhys.

The man frowned, pondering the question. Finally he said, lifting a shoulder, “In a way.”

“Would you like to tell me in what way that is?” She was already getting fed up with this conversation. 

The man smiled, and she knew that smile, had seen it all the time on her own face, too long ago—cocky, overly confident. She hated it immediately. The man held out a hand, although there was no way for her to shake it. She eyed it with suspicion. “Matthias Skylord. Pleasure to meet you, Augustine.”

She froze. She did know him. He had—no. The thought of it still filled her with loathing. She took a step backwards and pointed a shaky finger at him. 

You,” she hissed through her teeth.

Me,” he breathed back, widening his eyes in feigned shock.

“What do you want,” she snapped, eager to get out of the room as fast as possible. Preferably back to Rhys.

“It’s not about what I want, it’s about what you want. I know what you want, but in order to get it you have to find me,” he said. 

“How do you know what I want!” She was somehow scowling even more now. 

“Because this whole house reeks of necromancy, sweetheart.” 

“Don’t you sweetheart me, wife killer,” she hissed through her teeth. There was only one person who was allowed to call her sweetheart and he was currently dead. A vein pulsed at his temple at the jab, but, other than that, he somehow managed to maintain his laidback appearance. It was frustrating. He smiled back, teeth flashing. Her lips curled and she was baring her teeth. He just chuckled. 

“So, do you want to come find me or not?”

“What’s in it for me?” She eyed him suspiciously. 

“You’ll get what you want,” he said simply. 

“I might do it. It depends on what he says,” she said simply. 

“Who?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“None of your business.” She smiled generously and turned away. “Gretchen! I’m done with the bastard.” A maid came running, nodding furiously. It was her butler. Normally butlers were men but this cult was male free, apart from Rhys. She heard a whoosh and she felt his presence vanish. She made her way back to Rhys, her heart racing. The moment she entered the room he was floating in the middle of the room, staring. She swallowed. 

“Who was that?” She flinched at his cold tone.

“Matthias Skylord,” she said, looking down at her hands, feeling defeated. “I know what you’re gonna say, Rhys, but I have no other choice. I have to accept his offer.”

No,” he hissed. “As much as I wish you to succeed, I can’t let you do this. He’s dangerous. This is too risky.”

“I’m aware of that, thank you very much,” she said, crossing her arms across her chest. “I can also handle myself.” Rhys shook his head, letting out a laugh of disbelief.

“You’re such a hypocrite. First you ask for my opinion and then you fight with me when I reply.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Oi, Mama Hen! Stop it!” she scowled.

He stared at her. “I’m saying this to you as someone who’s been there, done that, and don’t call me Mama Hen, it’s annoying.”

“Then stop calling me Gus.”

“You know I won’t.”

“I know,” she sighed. “Anyway, I’m doing it.” She swallowed harshly, and even as she made her way back down to the living room, the ominous lump in her stomach kept growing.