A Little Magic

Ok, one of my reviewers has brought a small fault in this chapter to my attention. Instead of writing 'No, Father, there's nothing.' I accidentally wrote, 'No, Father, there's anything.' Thanks for pointing that out to me, Jhanvi. And thank you for reviewing, Katara2.

"Alice!"

Alice flinched as the screechy voice yelled her name. She wiped her floury hands on her apron, and abandoned the bread dough she had been kneading.

"Yes Mrs. Barker?"

"Come in here child; don't lurk in the doorway like a thief."

Alice moved cautiously into the room, and then closer, to stand in front of the four-poster bed.

The lady in the bed was very old. So old, that her teeth were cracked and rotten, her sparse hair snow white, and her skin sallow, with many deep wrinkles ploughing through the one smooth surface.

"You wanted something madam?"

"Yes I did. Have you finished making the bread yet?"

"Not quite madam."

"Well finish it and then you may leave."

"Yes ma'am, thank you ma'am."

Alice hurried out of the bedroom and finished kneading the bread rapidly. She then put it in the oven for the maid-of-all-work to find that night.

"I'm leaving now madam. Should I come in on the morrow?"

"No child, I shall be out of town tomorrow, and the next."

Alice curtsied, and all but ran out of the house, only stopping to fetch her cloak and hood.

"Back so soon Miss Alice?" The wiry young maid asked as Alice walked quietly through the door, her cheeks pink from the cool air, and her unknown run.

"Yes Anna, and for good reason. Mrs. Barker let me off early thank the Maiden. I am not at all happy about working there."

"Why not?"

"That house gives me a bad feeling. Something is not quite right there."

"You had better not let your father hear you talk so Miss." Anna said breathlessly. "He would consider it blasphemous."

Alice smiled sadly.

"Don't worry Anna. I won't."

Alice took off her cloak, hood and outdoor shoes, before padding upstairs to her attic room to change for the evening meal.

As soon as she got into her room, she closed the door and locked it. She then got out four candles, one red, one green, one blue and one white. She lit them all and then placed them in their respective corners; white to the north for air, red to the east for fire, green to the south for earth and blue to the west for water. Closing her eyes, she stepped into the circle, and made the sign of a Wiccan pentacle; first she touched her left index finger to her left breast, then she moved to her right breast, then to her left hip, up to her third eye (the spot in between her eyes), back down to her right hip and then up to her left breast again. She was about to invoke the circle when she heard Anna's voice saying hello to her father, who was home from the parish.

Oh no! She thought in alarm, he's home early. She thanked her lucky stars that Anna knew she was a witch, and was one herself. She let herself drift back in time to the day when Anna had told her she was not alone in being a witch…

It had been a warm July night and she had been performing her protection rights. She had been standing outside, her father having been called away to hear a sick woman's sins. She was just reaching the peak of the ritual when Anna came outside with the dishwater. Alice had expected screaming, shouting, names and fainting. Anything but the calm acceptance, and the invitation of a cup of tea in the kitchen after she had finished.

After that Anna had become her best friend. Countless times she had saved Alice from being discovered by her father, and even more, she had helped Alice with the spells and rituals that required more than one witch. Anna had even spent some of her hard-earned money to buy Alice her first B.O.I.S.P. (Book Of Incantations, Spells and Potions.) (Although a witch's B.O.I.S.P was her unofficial diary as well.) Alice had never had a friend before, and with Anna she could talk about other things, that were in no way related to magick. She had tried her best to repay her friend for everything she had done, by making her own bed & helping with the cooking. It was Anna who'd made it possible for her to get a job where she could own her own money, so as to make it easier to get supplies without father being suspicious.

Unconsciously Alice smiled. She was definitely going to have to ask father about giving Anna Sunday off so Anna could visit her family for the 'Sabbath'. She'd bake Anna a blueberry pie to take with her is she could find a can of blueberries in the cellar.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door rattling on its hinges.

"Alice? Alice, open this door."

"Sorry Father, I will be but a moment."

In a panic she blew out all the candles, and after lighting her lamp, she opened the door. Her cheeks were flushed, and strands of black hair had escaped the neat coronet clung to her damp face. Her father looked at her in concern. What little hair he had left was blonde, whereas she had her mother's dark hair, pale colouring and slight stature. Only the dark blue eyes indicated any relation between father and daughter.

"What ails you daughter? It took you much time to answer me."

"I'm sorry Father. I was…" She hesitated, and covered it with a light cough as she scanned the small room. Her eyes alighted on her bible, sitting on the small bedside table, next to the lamp, which glowed softly. "I was reading Luke 2:5. It's so absorbing, I didn't hear you."

Why must I lie all the time? Her mind wailed despondently as she said these words. The Maiden knows I don't want to.

Some of her emotions must have shown on her face because her Father said,

"Alice I know I am your Father, not your Mother, but if there is anything wrong you can always tell me. I would never hold anything you told me against you."

What a mess. Alice thought. The one secret I have I could never tell. Not with all the burnings that have been taking place. Nor do I particularly want to be dunked, or hung either. A witch in Salem is definitely not the safest place to be.

"No Father there's nothing."

Her father smiled; satisfied he had done his duty as a parent.

"Well hurry down to the table. I have some important news for you."

Alice nodded,

"Yes Father."

As soon as he left she did a quick circle casting and then chanted a simple incantation, which would protect her room from intruders, before hurriedly pulling on her favourite pale green dress. It was made of finely spun wool that was so soft it felt like rose petals against her skin. She straightened her petticoats and then did up the small ivory buttons. She quickly tied the forest green silk sash, which contrasted perfectly with the pastel green gown. She pushed her feet into a pair of pointy-toed boots with shiny black shoe buttons that went up the side. Her shoes clacked as she moved towards the door. She walked out, closed the door behind her and quickly ran down the stairs.