Chapter 6 : Under Your Spell
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Under Your Spell
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On the day that Mother Blythe and Edward Smith died; Helga left home. It was a sunny day that day, with the yellow and brown leaves of autumn giving a golden glow to the little town. Helga found herself trundling towards the woods through the comparatively empty town centre. She had been put on the task to go and find Adrian Hufflepuff by his parents as he was supposed to be helping to clear out the stables, a job that he did not like. Helga could not help laughing in spite of herself; Adrian was always one to skive off his duties.
Even though Adrian was five years older than Helga, a strapping boy of fifteen, Helga knew he was the most special person in her life. She had spent much of her young life in the safety and protection of the Hufflepuff family and although she loved Baldward, Torda and Coventina it was Adrian who held a special place in her heart. Every day while her father worked in the fields Helga spent the day at Adrian’s side, doing some work in the garden, cleaning out the chicken coops and doing some embroidery while he helped his father with the cattle. Then the whole family would sit and teach Helga magic. Adrian had discovered that Helga was particularly talented, and the two were evenly matched when they duelled each other. But by seven o’clock she had to return home to prepare her father’s dinner after his busy day on the field, but she missed Adrian terribly.
He had always found ways to entertain the bonny Helga, and she doted on him for it. He called her his little angel because of her curly blonde hair and green eyes and she just wanted to spend all her time with him, and when they were younger she had. They had spent countless hours chasing each other through the fields and playing games with the other village children. Now, everything had changed. Adrian had recently started to become more irritable with her, and she seemed to be able to vex him like she had never done before. He also spent countless hours at a time out of the house, avoiding his sister, parents and especially Helga. Try as she might, Helga could not help but miss him, even when he was being as rude as he was.
Because of the quick pace she walked, she was soon past the boundary of the town and into the outskirts of the ancient dark woods that encircled the isolated Coven. Helga supposed that Adrian would be here as if you wanted to go anywhere private, secret or just out of the way of interference you had to be out of the town as there, people were always watching you. Picking up the pace Helga marched along the path worn down by many a traveller’s feet. It had been raining the previous night so the earth was sodden and muddy so Helga just followed the recognisable prints of Adrian’s thick leather boots.
It did not take her long to discover Adrian. She could see his long, lean figure through the bending trees and she instantly wanted to shout his name in the most childish manner possible. But Helga thought she would have her bit of fun and sneak up on him as he always did to her. Pushing herself to the ground, Helga began to crawl through the undergrowth towards Adrian’s, ready to jump on him and scare the living daylights out of him. But, on closer inspection, Helga realised that her old friend was not alone. On his back had appeared two pale hands grabbing his jacket and the arms they attached to appeared to be looped under Adrian’s armpits.
Helga watched for a moment as Adrian moved slightly, causing Helga to see who’s arms they were. Maud Penny was attached to Adrian’s lips, his hands in entwined curly blonde hair and hers digging into ravenously his back. Helga recoiled in shock for a moment. Maud was perhaps one of the worst human beings that Helga had ever met in her life. She was vain and silly, but there was no doubt she was attractive. She had a cloud of shining blonde hair and saucer like blue eyes. People around town claimed that Helga would look like her one day, but Helga was horrified by the idea. Maud was one of those girls who Helga extremely disliked, not for her beauty but her unkind heart.
Maud noticed Helga standing wide eyed before Adrian did. Pushing Adrian away she gazed at Helga, a look of malice in her usually sweet eyes. “Adrian,” she snapped vindictively, “what’s that little kid doing here?” Adrian turned to face Helga, his hazel eyes shining with sadness and annoyance as he saw her. It seemed as if he was disappointed with her and Helga could not bear that. Annoyed with Maud’s infuriating attitude, Helga began to speak slowly, her voice quivering despite herself.
“I only came to tell Adrian that he’s wanted back home.” Adrian turned to Maud and took one hand, before saying simply, “I have to go Maud.” Maud seemed to grow red in the face, her usual pale skin now a rosy colour. “You always run off at the slightest thing from that girl,” spat Maud nastily, pointing a delicate finger in Helga’s direction. Adrian seemed to blush furiously at this suggestion. Helga was not quite sure what was going on. It was true Adrian was affectionate, but he was not her lapdog. He did have his own life. Adrian turned away from Maud, shaking his head sadly.
“This is over Adrian!” Maud was screaming furiously, “if you make another excuse about that girl I swear to God that this is over!” Maud looked absolutely livid and Helga could not quite understand why. Helga did not have any clue why Maud would want to attach her lips to Adrian’s anyway. That was the sort of things mothers and fathers did. Adrian was a boy and boys were gross!
Adrian suddenly turned to Maud, “you can’t expect me to choose you over my family Maud!” he shouted, “It’s only been a month!” Maud seemed to inflate angrily, her chest swelling and her face becoming red in indignation “that little kid isn’t your family Adrian! She’s Edward Smith’s daughter, not yours!” Adrian stared at Maud wildly, his chestnut hair shining in the sunlight, “I know that Maud, but you can’t understand! I’ve sworn to protect her!”
Maud seemed to breathe heavily, a note of forced hilarity in her voice, “From what Adrian?” Adrian didn’t answer her and defiantly took Helga’s little hand in his and marched away from the scene, seemingly not caring as Helga stumbled as they went. They walked for ages until they could no longer see Maud through the thicket of trees, at which point Adrian threw himself down next to a large. He let the tears come quickly. As Adrian was a boy and boys were meant to be brave, he hardly ever cried. When he did, the only person that big, tough Adrian would ever let see him cry was Helga. Apprehensively she sat down next to him, gazing at him with her big green eyes.
“Adrian, why are you crying?” she said gently, patting his muscular shoulder consolingly. He turned to her, slowly wiping his tears away with his sleeve. “It’s Maud. We’re together one minute and we’ve broken up the next. She’s always been like this, she just can’t see how much a love her.” For some reason Helga noticed that this comment of Adrian’s made her feel like she had been stabbed in the stomach. She did not know why but it felt as if her entrails were leaving her body as the cold came rushing in, numbing her senses.
“Tell her you love her,” Helga said meekly looking at him with her saucer like eyes, “that’s the easiest way to show her!” Her own words seemed to injure her even more. It was not that Helga was jealous of Maud; it was just if Adrian followed Maud then Helga would lose him forever. But it was not that. Helga could not be selfish when it came to it. She had to think of Adrian and if he loved Maud, he should tell her.
Petronilla found herself at the door of Edward Smith’s house. The instant she saw the life leave Mother Blythe’s body, not even waiting to close the dead matriarch’s eyes, she had leapt into action. She failed to inform that stupid girl Coventina of the misfortune that had befallen the community as that would only ruin the grand plan that she had drawn out long ago for this eventuality. Unlocking the door with a quick spell she barged her way into the little cottage, her white cloak whipping around her, casting her as a dominant, terrible figure.
Inside she found Edward. His burly arms were laden with logs for his fire and as it was a rather hot day he had removed his ragged shirt. Petronilla could see the beads of sweat rolling down his face into his tawny beard; he had evidently been working hard. His muscles were taut from carrying his load and Petronilla could not help but notice her heart pick up its pace at the sight of him. His light brown eyes connected with hers and he dropped the logs in surprise and shock, sending them tumbling onto the stone floor.
“What are you doing here Petra?” he said, his voice wavering. His eyes were wide in shock as Petronilla lifted her wand menacingly, pointing it directly at the centre of Edward’s chest. He lifted his hands immediately as Petronilla realised that he did not even have his wand on him. Her heart was hammering at the sight of him like this. He was defenceless, within her power, under her spell. That was the way she had wanted him to be for years.
She remembered how much she had adored Edward when she was a slip of a girl, and hoped and prayed that he would someday be hers. But Helga, her awful sister had got him first. It was startling how quickly he could be swayed by fluttering eyelashes and an easy virtue. Petronilla had fought as hard as she could for him, but she could never get over her sister’s betrayal. The thought of that dead bitch still acted as a barricade between Petronilla and her beloved, and she could not stand for that any longer.
“Mother Blythe is dead,” said Petronilla viciously, the tears coming to her own green eyes, “and you are going to tell me where your daughter is.” She thought she had delivered her message perfectly simply and with the threatening tone of her stance and voice, he was bound to give in to her demands. His eyes opened wider in shock and horror as he gazed in loathing at Petronilla. She felt herself wavering in front of him, her terrifying mask slipping for a moment. For years she had loved him and now, if he refused, she did not know what she would do.
A cruel chuckle rose from his throat. It sounded as if it had come from deep within, ripping itself out to mock her. “Petronilla,” he said, matching her viciousness, “let’s not play games. You and I both know that I will not be telling you where my daughter is, now or ever, because we both know what your plans for her are.” Petronilla breathed in sharply, her temper was being pushed. He was the only one who had ever been able to get her like this, usually she remained calm and used trickery, but he unlocked the gates that let her passions come flooding out.
Years she’d waited for those coveted powers. She’d plotted to kill her sister so she would be the heir to Mother Blythe, the heir to all those hopes and dreams. But Edward had stood defiantly in the way. First, he had loved Helga over Petronilla and that upset Petronilla no end. Then, although Edward’s baby cost Helga her life, the baby held all the power that Petronilla craved. That baby was not just Edward’s, but Helga’s and therefore a mixture of the person she loved the most, and the person she hated the most.
“Edward,” Petronilla spat, angry tears coming to her eyes, “I love you and I always have. But if you stand in my way I have no choice.” Her promise sounded so resolute, so final and Petronilla was sure this would change his mind. To her horror Edward’s handsome face broke out into a laugh, this time genuinely amused at what she had said. “Oh Petra,” he said a hint of sadness slipping into his deep voice, “I lost my will to live ten years ago when Helga lost her life. I will happily give my life for my daughter.” Petronilla almost screamed in rage. He was always so irritating, so vexing but just so wonderful.
“I’ll kill her, I’ll rip her to shreds if you do not admit you’ve loved my all these years, more than you ever loved my dratted little sister!” Petronilla screamed, a hint of madness entering her eyes. Edward looked solemn for a moment as he gently ran one hand through his messy chestnut hair. “Why have me lie to you?” he asked, “you know that Helga was my everything, still is all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t understand why you’d have me lie or why you would want to kill my daughter.”
“It’s simple,” said Petronilla, “because then I’ve beaten her.” An expression of disappointment washed over Edward’s face as Petronilla continued, “So, I give you one last chance. Where is she?” Edward shook his head and replied simply, “no.”
Then Petronilla had to make her decision. The decision she had been trying to delay for most of her adult life. Her one true love or revenge on her sister and the power she’d always craved? It took her less than a second before made her decision as she uttered an ancient dark spell that would seal his fate for eternity. “Avada Kedavra”
Edward did not even have time to react and she saw the life disappear from his body the second he was hit. Edward Smith was dead before he hit the ground. His chestnut brown hair was splayed out behind him and his chestnut eyes were a ghost of what they had once been. Petronilla looked at him for a moment before bending down beside him. She had sent him directly to Helga, she knew that now. Her decision had been rash and temperamental. He looked as if he were asleep, his brown hair still ruffled and messy, his mouth slightly ajar. His eyes, those light brown eyes that had always enthralled Petronilla so caught the light even more spectacularly now all the anger and resentment he had been feeling towards her had disappeared.
He was as perfect as he had ever been. She hovered there for a moment, watching the body of the man she still passionately loved. Then she stood up and made her leave. “Now Petronilla,” she said to herself, a hint of madness in her tone, “time to find your ever so darling niece.” As she left the little cottage to she took one last look at him before repairing the door. “I truly loved you Edward,” she whispered, leaving him behind her forever.
After consoling Adrian, Helga pulled him up ready to return to Dewsbury. It was getting dark and she would have to make her father’s dinner when she got home. A depressed Adrian would delay this entire process. They tramped across the dirt tracks hand in hand. Helga only ever secretly admitted it to herself but she had always admired and adored Adrian. Adrian on the other hand, while caring for Helga, saw her as a silly child.
Helga remembered when a couple had married in the town several years previously. Everyone was excited and the wedding was wonderful. There was a sumptuous feast and gallons of wine but Helga didn’t touch any of it. She was far too preoccupied watching Adrian dance. She did not know why, but even from a young age she had loved him and she knew she would never let go of that.
She also knew, deep down inside her, that one day she would be married to him. She’d always known. It was as if they were destined to be together. But then there was Maud and Helga could see how much Adrian loved her. If he truly loved Maud, beyond anything else, though it pained her to do so, Helga would let him go.
She did not know why she felt so adult in her emotions. She could never kiss him, or hug him, the way Maud had been with him, but she had such an affectionate feeling towards Adrian that she knew that it could only lead to marriage for her. She strolled leisurely in his company, gazing up at him occasionally, seeing the sad look in his eyes. She hated to see him sad.
When they reached the edge of the town Adrian dropped Helga’s hand. He did it automatically and Helga was not hurt by it. She knew everyone his age could not understand why he cared for her so much. Helga followed him dutifully as they made their way through the town. It was a normal evening and Helga liked the town at that time of day.
Adrian and Helga made their way round to the Hufflepuff’s house. It was bigger than most other houses as Adrian’s family were so influential in the town. They trailed round to the back of the impressive cottage so they could sit in the room used as the kitchen for awhile to relax and then Helga would return home. Adrian swung one lean leg over the window sill, pulling himself through into the kitchen space. Helga, being too short to do this, was then helped over by a waiting Adrian.
It was at that point that Helga heard a voice that made her nearly scream. It was her Aunt Petronilla. Helga hated her Aunt and she had always been told to keep away from her. There had been one stolen conversation between Coventina and her father that Helga had overheard and it filled her heart with terror. Petronilla would one day be out for her blood.
“Where is she? I know you have her; she follows your son round like a puppy dog! Where is she?”
She sounded crazed, half mad. Adrian put one strong arm around Helga’s shoulders and she was instantly comforted. She felt as if Petronilla could not touch her as Adrian would keep her safe. Helga cowered into Adrian’s side as she heard Adrian’s father’s voice coming through the wall.
“I do not know where she is Petronilla, just calm down and be reasonable! She is just a child!” Helga shivered only for Adrian to hold her harder against him. She knew why Petronilla was here and Helga was certain she was going to die. Petronilla’s anger seemed to slide through the walls as she bellowed, “she is a child in my way! She is her child!” Helga knew Petronilla was referring to her deceased sister, Helga’s namesake.
There was a noise of movement behind them and Adrian turned, pulling his wand from his belt. They turned to find Coventina climbing clumsily through the window. Helga rushed to her aid and soon Coventina was in the room, undetected by the bellowing Petronilla. Coventina’s eyes looked terrified and sad; she barely looked at either of them as she thrust a bundle into Helga’s hands which including some food, a cloak and Helga’s wand.
“Adrian,” she whispered urgently, “take her to John the Blacksmith. He owes me a favour, tell him to deliver Helga to Alba, there she can be truly safe.” Alba! Helga knew that was many miles away, further than she had ever been before. She had only ever travelled to the local Muggle town to trade and that was it. Alba was a magical kingdom far to the north.
“But I can’t leave here! When can I come back?” Helga stammered. Coventina ignored her but kissed her brother on the cheek. “Keep her safe Adrian, according to Mother Blythe; her future must not be stopped!” Helga did not understand as the tears came to her eyes. “Go now,” said Coventina, “get out the window and go through the woods. I will stall our dear Petra.”
Adrian nodded as he placed one hand on Helga’s back, directing her towards the window. Helga clambered through, followed by Adrian. It was dark and he grasped Helga’s hand as he began to jog along the path, taking her silently through a back route. “Adrian,” Helga whispered through her tears, “your parents can stop my aunt, can they not?” Adrian did not answer as they sped through the woods.
It did not take them long to reach John the Blacksmith’s cottage. It was a clean little house with ivy drawing lines up the side. Thick layers of straw covered the roof and Helga had always imagined she would one day own a house like that. There was a golden light shining through the windows and silhouettes danced on the opposite wall. Marching up to the door, Adrian knocked as boldly as he could, still grasping Helga’s hand.
The door swung open and Helga found herself staring into Maud Penny’s eyes. She took one spiteful look at Helga before saying to Adrian, “what do you want?” Her voice dripped of the sentiment that she was not going to be helpful. “Maud,” Adrian said, sounding drained, “we have no time for argument now I need to speak to your father!” Maud looked very sullen but nodded and called for her father who came blundering into view.
He was a large man with a heavy set jaw and beady brown eyes. He looked nothing like his attractive daughter and spoke with a gruff voice. His large belly hung over his trousers and his messy beard held bits of food. Helga found herself immediately repelled. Adrian however stood up taller as John rolled his blood shot eyes over him.
“Your my Maud’s bit aren’t you?” he asked in his thick accent. Adrian blushed a bright shade of crimson as he continued, “this is not about Maud sir. My sister, Coventina sent me here to bring you Helga.” John turned to look at Helga, a quizzical look on his brutish face, “what do I want her for?” Adrian looked slightly riled, but he continued regardless, “my sister wants you to take her to Alba.”
John let out a hearty laugh as he clutched both his sides. “To Alba!” he snorted, “that’s a week’s travelling, why would I do that?” Adrian looked at Helga for a moment. His eyes seemed to be searching for something in hers before he said, “she is the daughter of Helga and Edward Smith. They are both dead. Petronilla will have her revenge if this girl stays here.”
John reacted to this as he coughed loudly before spluttering, “Petronilla! Alba you say?” He grabbed Helga roughly by the arm and dragged her towards the cart that lay behind his cottage. Adrian jogged resolutely behind them as Helga started to cry, “please! I want to stay here!” John did not listen as he thrust her one the cart, “you have two minutes then I’m taking her out of here.”
Dashing back into his cottage, John left Adrian and Helga perfectly alone. “Adrian,” sobbed Helga, “I don’t understand. Why am I leaving?” He hovered in front of her for a moment, before enveloping his strong arms around her. “It’s not safe for you here,” he said sadly. Helga sobbed freely into his shoulder, “what about papa? You said he was dead!” Adrian suddenly broke away as if the words she said were painful to him, “If Petronilla is out for your blood, it means she’s already got your father’s.”
The news hit her hard. Her father was her everything and she could not bear it if he were dead. “At least he’s with mama again,” Helga whispered, thinking of the mother she’d never met, “they’ve just left me alone.” The tears rolled down her cheeks like raindrops. Adrian held her again, tighter this time, “I’ll miss you Helga.” Then it all dawned on her all at once, “you’re not coming with me?”
Adrian shook his head sadly as tears matching Helga’s came rolling down his cheeks. “I have to stay here,” he said sadly, not bearing to look at her. “Will I ever see you again?” asked Helga, knowing the answer full well. Adrian would grow up here, marry Maud have many children and grandchildren and run a successful farm. He would then end up living in a nice house as his children and wife looked after him as he got old, and he would be buried in the local graveyard. Helga’s future however was hundreds of miles away, in Alba.
The door to the cottage burst open noisily as John came out dressed in a thick cloak. “We’re going,” he said gruffly as he untied a horse from his stable. Adrian hugged Helga one last time and kissed her on her cheek, “I may never see you again until the next life,” he whispered, “so I hope you’re happy in Alba.” Helga nodded as the tears came again, “I hope you’re happy too.”
Soon everything was ready to go as Helga perched in the back of the cart amongst the bales of straw that were loaded haphazardly around her. “Look after Maud for me while I’m gone,” said John to Adrian, her gruff demeanour melting at the mention of his beloved daughter. Taking the words to heart, Adrian nodded. “Goodbye Helga,” he said sadly. Helga could not even reply as she gave him a small smile and nestled into the straw. The cart started as Helga looked up at the sky now peppered with stars. Was the sky still like that in Alba?
The cart picked up speed as Helga gazed back, frantically waving to Adrian whose outline was becoming smaller and smaller in the gentle light of John and Maud’s house. Helga was sure he was waving too, but she could barely see. Soon she could not see him at all and then it hit her. She would never see Adrian or her father again.
The journey was long and treacherous. While John adeptly avoided lands that were populated by bandits, he could not miss the terribly cold weather or the hilly terrain. Some days they barely passed a village, and Helga grew terribly hungry. She had shared the bread that Coventina had given her in her bundle with John, but he had not returned the favour. While he bought large quantities of food for himself, Helga just got his leftovers.
It took them a full week to reach the forests that surrounded Alba. Big deciduous trees acted like barriers between the two travellers and Alba and Helga found it all terrifying. John did nothing to comfort her, but instead ignored her and kept the tired little cart going along the tracks. On that particularly freezing night, John decided it was best to stop before entering the woods. He unloaded a whole loaf of bread for himself and leaning up against a tree he began to demolish it. Helga watched him hungrily, she had not eaten properly since she left Dewsbury and the thought of food was all too tempting.
He said nothing, but kept shovelling mouthfuls of bread down his throat. The moonlight was bright, just like the night that Helga had left home and it made her so sad to think of Adrian and her father. Suddenly a noise ripped through the night air that made John jump with fright; the wolves were howling. Helga could hear their plaintive, primitive song and it called to her. The call of nature always sang to Helga and she listened carefully, consuming every word.
“Dogs howling in the dark of night,” whispered John, panicked, “Howl for death before daylight!” He jumped up, ramming the last piece of bread into a pocket. Running quicker than a man of his size and age he leapt up onto his cart and settled himself ready to go. “Are we going now?” asked Helga, moving towards the cart. “I am,” he said gruffly, “but you’re not. Alba is just through this forest!” Helga nearly laughed; he was not seriously leaving her, was he?
“But you can’t just leave me,” stammered Helga, “Mother Blythe said I had a future. If I’m not safe, Petronilla...” John seemed to swell with indignation at Helga’s words. “I don’t care anymore; Petronilla can run the coven if that’s what she really wants. I’ve got to get back to Maud! And besides, with those dogs howlin’, I don’t want to be the one dead!” And with that, John turned his cart of into the night, leaving Helga trembling at the base of a tree. Then she was totally alone and she would have to fight for herself.
I hope you like this story. If you do, read my other one "From Ancient Grudge". Please read and review, I would really like to know how I'm doing. Next Chapter...Princess Rowena and Cadmus Peverell go playing in the woods and meet a new friend...
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