Although her eyes were close, Sheena was very aware of her surroundings and could hear the distant chimes of a clock, did it really just strike 13? It did! Excited that the witching hour was upon her, Sheena sat up in her bed and tried to calm her nerves. Every witch came of age at 18, when the moon was red and the clock stuck 13 times, but she felt no different? She corrected her position, rested her upright palms on her knees and waited for the rush of power that she expected but, as the chimes ceased and the house went still, she was still waiting. Perhaps she wasn’t a witch after all, but how can that be? She’d been raised in a house of women, a coven, all were related and all were witches. Could it really be that she was merely normal?
She looked at the room around her, trying to focus on something in an attempt to stop a panic attack taking hold but everything reminded her of magic. Her desk was straining under the weight of all the spell books she had borrowed in preparation for today. She was ready to impress everyone with her magical abilities and knowledge – she’d dreamt of nothing else since she her Aunt had first told her she was from a long line of witches. She got out of bed, her legs feeling unusually heavy under the weight suddenly on her shoulders, and walked over to the desk. After a few minutes of searching she found what she was looking for, pen and paper, she would write a letter to her Aunt Willow explaining what had happened and ask her how to rectify it. Willow was just down the hall; she’d slip it under her door and run back to the room before she woke up. Dearest Aunt – too formal, To Willow – too casual. The bin quickly filled with screwed up paper as Sheena attempted to explain but each scenario was worse than the next. There was no way this would end well.
Her attempts to calm her nerves had failed and she had fallen into a full-blown panic attack. Sheen a kicked off the duvet as an unrelenting heat enveloped her, her breathing was shallow and her chest was becoming so tight that her ribs hurt whenever she tried to take a deep breath, her vision blurred before her and all sound was replaced by a whooshing in her ears. She would have to move out; she couldn’t live in a house of magic if she wasn’t magical herself. The looks of pity, secretive whispers and shame would simply be too much. But where could she go? She had no family outside the magical world and friends, well, there were none. She’d never really ventured outside the grounds of the coven because she hadn’t needed too. Now she would be alone, vulnerable and without all she had relied on throughout her life. How would she survive without money? With no skills? She couldn’t even boil an egg and now she would have to survive all alone. She’d have to get a job, perhaps waitressing, but she’d never been good at maths so would muck up a lot. The boss would probably be patient with her at first but slowly he would lose his temper and with that she would lose her only income. She would be forced to live in a park and beg for food from mortals.
By the time Aunt Willow walked through the bedroom door; followed by her cousins Mina and Charlie, Uncle Andreas and other coven members, Sheena was rocking in the corner of the room with tears streaming down her face. Aunt Willow approached her cautiously, her hand out like she was approaching a feral creature poised to attack rather than her niece.
“Sheena! What is the matter? What’s happened? Are you hurt?” She spoke in hush tones, concern dripping from every word. Sheena sobbed harder, what a great birthday!
“I…I tried…13 strikes on the clock…” Sheena struggled to get the words out and, after looking around at the worried faces of her family, she gave up. Summoning every piece of strength she had Sheena jumped up, startling Aunt Willow, and ran straight across the bed and into the bathroom. She slammed the door behind her, run the tap and simply sat. She barely had time to dry her tears and catch her breath before the banging started.
“Sheena, are you ok? Sick? It’s normal to feel nervous, we’ve all been there, but we’re here to support you. We’ll show you the way, we’re your sisters” Willow sounded concerned which only made Sheila cry harder.
“I can’t do this”
“Of course you can, you’re from a long line of witches, it is in your blood”
“I’m not a witch”
“Oh now you’re just being silly!” Sheena heard the muffling sounds of talking coming from the other side of the door before her cousin Mina came through the door. Literally through it.
“You know the rule about using doors Mina, just because you can walk through walls doesn’t mean you should. Doesn’t privacy mean anything in this house?!?”
“Oh do stop being overdramatic. You wouldn’t answer your aunt and have childishly locked yourself away rather than talk to us. What else were we supposed to do?” Mina sat on the baths edge and grabbed Sheena’s hand between hers. She stroked it soothingly. “You’re clearly upset!”
“There’s nothing you, or I, can do about it so why bother you”
“There’s the Killian stubborn streak we all seem to have but you don’t have to face whatever this is alone. That’s the benefit of living in a house with 14 people” she laughed before becoming serious again “whatever it is, I will help you work through it”
Sheena kept her gaze fixed solidly on the ground, refusing to look Mina in the eye through fear of her tears starting up again. Also, she wasn’t sure she would be able to face the pity that would inevitably cover her face the minute the words came out. “I’m not a witch. I have no magic and now I will have to move out, be homeless and live on the street with the stray dogs” Once Sheena had started, she couldn’t stop “How can I not be a witch? I was raised by witches, all I’ve known is magic and now I’ve got to go out into the real world with no skills. WHY DID YOU GUYS NOT SHOW ME HOW TO BOIL AN EGG!!?” Mina, who had tried to hold it together, was now laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face. This only incensed Sheena more. “I’m serious. In all the years you were telling me about the big thing that happens on my 18th birthday; the power I would have, the feelings I would get and that I’d officially be inaugurated into the coven. You didn’t warn me that there was a chance it wouldn’t happen, that I may sit there listening to the damn clock strike 13 and feel nothing”
Mina stopped laughing and tried her hardest to compose herself: “Sheena, you heard the 13 strikes of the clock. That’s the sign. What were you expecting?”
“A surge of power, a bright light, anything!”
“You watch too many movies my girl. The rush of energy that flows through you will happen at your inauguration rather than now. You do not simply get power, you have to earn it”
“So, I don’t need to move out?”
“Only if you’d want too and, with all of us around, why would you?” She headed through the door “clean yourself up and let’s see what you can do”
Splashing cold water over her face, Sheena waited for the angry red puffiness surrounding her eyes to go down slightly. Outside, the murmurs had become quite loud. Mina would be telling them what happened. Brushing her hair and applying a new layer of lip-gloss, Sheena attempted to get herself camera ready before the onslaught of celebratory pictures began. She had looked truly awful in some of the pictures taken over the year and she was determined that these would not be another one. Before leaving Sheena flushed the toilet. Not that she’d been but appearances must always be upheld. With a final deep breath Sheena opened the door and stepped outside, straight into the gaze of a coven of concerned girls. Sensing her discomfort, Willow came straight over to her, put her arm over Sheena’s shoulder and guided her to the middle of the coven. Using a hug as a cover, she whispered in her ear “you’ll be fine, trust me”. Stepping back, Willow’s face became serious as she took Sheena’s hand in hers own.
“Sheena Killian. This eve marks your 18th birthday and your rebirth into the world of magic, creation and wonder. You have been lucky enough to be raised by witches, in particular a pretty awesome aunt” she winked and giggled to herself before continuing “so you know how powerful magic can be and how destructive it can be if used wrongly. By initiating yourself into the Autina coven, you pledge that you’ll only use your magic in good, selfless ways or risk banishment. Do you accept these rules?”
“I do” Sheena managed to sound confident, if only she could stop her hands shaking.
All formality dropped from Willow’s face and she smiled broadly. “See, that wasn’t so hard was it?”
“So when do I get my powers, get to practice, I can’t….” Sheena was cut off by Willow.
“You have to go and train with a different coven. It makes no sense but it is the rules” Willow looked stern again. Her lips were so tightly pursed together that Sheena couldn’t see them and, much to her amusement, she wasn’t blinking.
“Before I tell you your coven, you need to know something very important” She hesitated again. Sheena’s humour was quickly dwindling as fear set in. The girls surrounded her, each giving her the same pitiful look. “Your coming of age was something I both longed for a dreaded. I love you so much and am so proud of the young witch you’ve become but it’s not without its risks”
“Risks, what risks? We all go through this, right?” Sheena couldn’t get rid of the knot in her stomach or the bile in her throat. Something was telling her to run.
“We do but we aren’t all as” hesitation again “special as you. Nor do we have the choice you have to make, no girl should. We were born to good witches, many of which are still in this coven. We have an inner goodness that clearly manifests itself through our powers. You have come to us through a different path, a darker path and one that makes your future a little rocky.”
“Dark path. What are you on about?” Sheena rubbed little circles next to her eyes.
“God this is harder than I ever thought” Willowo rose to her feet, pacing the room and rubbing the centre of the palm, a telltale twitch that let Sheena know she was going to hate the next sentence that came out of her mouth.
“Ladies can you give us a minute” The rest of the witches left the room, whispering under their breath and giving sideways glances full of uncertainty and fear. Sheena shifted uncomfortably in her bed, sat bolt upright and took a deep breath.
“You know you were adopted, we have never lied to you about it. What you don’t know is the story of how you came to us in the first place.”
“My mum left me here when I was a baby, it was all very Harry Potter” Sheena laughed. Willow didn’t and the room descended into a deadly silence. She could hear the clattering of cups and kettles as tea was made.
“That is very true. Your mum did leave you here when you were a baby” Willow glanced at the clock. Again. “But it wasn’t because she wanted to, she had to. Your father was out of control and you weren’t safe. She just wanted you to have a normal childhood, a family, choices. She didn’t know where to go and she has never contacted you since, I don’t even know if she is still alive.”
Confused, Sheena said nothing. Her heart pounded in her chest, the sound of blood pumping drowning out any sound. Her mother was dead? Despite never seeing her, Sheena felt lost and tears started to roll down her cheeks. Willow, who normally was ever so comforting, looked away.
“Your dad is called Levi. He was born over a thousand years ago…”
Sheena burst in to giggles, a sense of relief washing over her “my god Willow! Do you know how nervous you got me. I thought you were being serious like I was part of some underground cult. My heart was beating so fast” Sheena couldn’t stop laughing, getting more and more hysterical until she realised Willow wasn’t joining in. She was staring at the alarm clock. It was 2.17am
“I’m deadly serious. You need to listen because we don’t have much time. Your dad is the ruler of the Underworld. He didn’t want it and he wasn’t in line for it when he met your mother. His older brother, your Uncle Dan was, but he was killed in a motorcycle accident. At 2.33am, the time of your birth, you will officially be 18 and come into your powers. The cloaking and binding spell put on you as a baby will wear off. You will come into more power than any witch before you”
Something warm and wet hit Sheena’ s arm, breaking her concentration. She looked down to see a pool of drool on her arm where she had forgotten to swallow. Her mind was having a fight between reality and fantasy. She knew Willow wouldn’t lie to her, why would she, but this was just so nonsensical. She was nothing special, certainly not the ruler of the underworld, and she wasn’t evil. How could she run hell when she couldn’t even see harm come to a spider. Seriously, she found paper and a cup and led them outside. She felt bad every time she accidentally stepped on one and thought about them for days. Now she is the descendant of some big bad beasty called Levi. LEVI. What a stupid name for the devil. Willow shook her, stopping her train of thought for a split second.
“This is really important. We don’t know when he is going to come or what he is going to do. He has no reason to want you alive as you are a bigger threat to him while you are breathing. We are powerful as a coven but we can’t protect you, only hold him off. He is too strong. You are going to have to run, and run far, to a more powerful coven.”
“The silent sisters! That’s who you were talking to the other day.”
“Exactly. I’ve packed your bag but you must go now. Take the car.”
Sheena stood up and pulled leggings over her nightgown. It wasn’t comfortable or fashionable but the night was cold and she had a long way to drive. She scooped the contents of her desk into a bag and slung it on her shoulder. Adrenaline coursed through her; making her breathless but energised at the same time, as she took in her surroundings. Grabbing the door handle, she hesitated.
“How did mum die?”
“We haven’t got time for this Sheena” Willow was packing bath essentials and anything else she could find, whether she needed it or not.
“Make time. My life has been thrown upside down tonight because you lied to me for 18 years.” She sat on the floor, cross-legged “Start talking”
“Fine but the cliff notes version” Sheena fixed her a stern gaze “When they first met they were so in love. When your mum found out who Levi was, where he came from, she tried to stay away. To ignore him but he was relentless. Flowers, chocolates, messages, presents etc. It wore her down and she welcomed him back into her life and – you know what – things were going great. They moved in together, were talking about a future and of course had you. Then Levi’s brother died meaning Levi was the king of the underworld, a job he neither coveted or wanted, and yet a job you can’t escape. Make no mistake Sheena, you will be Queen of the Underworld if we can keep you alive. At first Levi did the bare minimum to get by; protecting the souls of as many people as he could but the job got too much. It corrupted him. He started enjoying torture, thinking of different ways to hurt people and give them the most painful deaths. Eventually, your mum tried to leave. She set fire to the house, with everyone inside. In the panic and the chaos, they never checked on your mum until it was too late. Or so she thought. She had just pushed you into the portal when he grabbed her from behind. She never stood a chance.”
Willow had stopped packing now and was crying. “I should have been there, I should have stopped him or stopped her going back to him in the first place”
Sheena felt dizzy. It was just too much to take in. Mum was a witch, Dad was a devil, what did that make her? Was she evil? Did she want to be evil? He killed her? Some big bad was going to hunt her every day of her damned life because she was who she was. Sheena felt like her brain had imploded.
The thudding of the door came from downstairs. It was loud and frantic, something was coming in. Sheena looked at Willow, and then the clock. 2.34am. He was here.
Bang Bang Bang