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The Witch's Game

Chapter Text

Angela Ziegler was running out of time. Dashing through the halls of her modest townhouse she rummaged through the drawers, stuffing papers down her blouse and in the leather satchel hung at her side. Running down the stairs Angela threw open the cabinets in the kitchen, vials upon vials falling and shattering at her feet, pale fingers grabbing only the most important and placing them as gently as possible into her bag. Banging on her front door made the blonde turn her head with a start to watch as the old wooden door shook in the foyer. Grabbing her staff the witch placed a simple charm on the splintering oak before running to the couch in the living area. With a wistful smile, the young woman ran a few fingers longingly across the back of the inherited piece of furniture before shoving it aside with a huff.

 

“Miss! Miss, open up!”

 

A gruff voice sounded on the other side of the door and with a final look around her home, Angela slipped into the entrance of the cellar via the trapdoor hidden among the floorboards. With a quick hiss of enchantments, Angela could hear the couch moving itself and the sound of the door giving way to hurried bootsteps.

 

Bustling about the cellar, Angela locked the doors to the hidden rooms before rolling aside a great stone that leads to the wilds beyond. Without hesitation the witch ran into the darkness of the tunnel, the boulder righting itself after her passing.

 

In the dark of the tunnels, the echo of a cackle could be heard bouncing off the walls.

 

She’d done it again.

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When Angela finally stumbled through the underbrush and overgrowth to the clearing in the depths of the woods she was only slightly surprised to find familiar figures waiting there for her. At the center of the clearing and old stump at least seven feet wide sat embedded into the dark mossy earth below it. Years of use showed on the smooth top of the stump, the edges bearing little to no bark. Around it sat stools, of many colours and cultures. Stolen or found when needed, sometimes made. On one of the stools sat Satya Vaswani, cleaning under her nails-that bore quite the resemblance to talons in Angela’s opinion-while her raven lounged idly on her shoulder. Behind her off to the left of the clearing, Amélie Lacroix could be seen in the shadows fondly rubbing the head of her familiar, Sombra, a purple cat. A boney hand gripped her shoulder firmly, “Angela, I’m glad to see you’ve made it.”

 

Almost at once Amélie stepped out from the shadows, Sombra vanishing as the witch stepped forward, “Well? How does it go, do they suspect you?”

 

This seemed to peak Satya’s interests as the other woman lifted her head slightly and raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.

 

Angela furrowed her brow, “I’m not sure, it’s hard to say. They came knocking at my door but I made sure to leave before then, obviously I took everything with me. I’ve informed Mei that as far as everyone knows I’ve been out of town, visiting family for the past week and therefore cannot be the cause of my husband’s death.”

 

Ana smiled, “I see, let me ask you, child, what of his family? Surely they’ll want your head, this is the second son you’ve gone through, you know.”

 

Satya smiled, clearly deeming this as something worth her opinion, “Oh please, I’m sure most people know Hanzo left town with those bandits hoping to go to America.”  

 

Briefly Angela’s mind flashed back to a bandit with red eyes and white hair, smooth skin rubbing deliciously and sinnfully against her own in between the sheets of a bed in an inn far, far away in the middle of nowhere. Hanzo, her fiance at the time, had taken a liking to her bandit’s counterpart-a ruffian of a man with a beard and an affinity to cigars-and it was agreed that he would run away with them to the America’s while she stayed behind and played the story of a wife-to-be whose husband ran away from her in the night.

 

The Shimada’s, as if to make up for Angela’s loss of a husband, offered her their second son, Genji, in his brother’s place. This was fine by Angela, easier for her to carry out her plan on someone she hadn’t befriended over a mutual understanding of their true desires in a partner. So, Angela did with her third husband what she did to her first, and waited until the night they planned on attempting insemination and killed him while he slept in a flurry of spells and untraceable potions.

 

The aim of her plans, of course, her husband’s inheritance. As if reading her mind, Amélie asked with a truly devilish smirk, “So, how much this time?”  

 

Angela shuffled her feet looking to Satya when the woman chuckled, “Well, Amélie, you know the Shimada’s are rich, I daresay richer than you and Gerard. Why, Angela, you’d have to have made nearly-”

 

“It was quite a bit, yes.” Angela slumped onto one of the stools around the table, resting her tired body and sore feet.

 

Ana, a woman whom she looked up to immensely, rested a wrinkled hand on her shoulder. “Come now dear, lay down in The Hut and have a rest. Besides, don’t feel ashamed of your actions now, the men you tempt are merely pigs anyway.”

 

Amélie’s cold hand brushed against the nape of her neck, her ponytail moving with the motion, “Of course, mon cher (my dear) , consider yourself, un ange (an angel) , for the women of this town.” As always the woman's thick french accent sent shivers down Angela's spine. She was as much of an outsider as they all were, Satya from the lands of spices and beautiful fabrics, Ana from the lands of heat and sand, Mei from the other side of the continent, and herself from the alps of Switzerland and the woods of Germany.

 

“I suppose you’re right, as always Ana.” The older woman smiled, the wrinkles around her eyes prominent yet she still looked beautiful.

 

“Come, let’s get you to The Hut, Fareeha’s here and I’m sure she’d love to see you again after all these years.”

 

Angela wasn’t sure what she felt at the prospect of seeing an old friend again, but for some reason, the ache in her feet didn’t seem all that unbearable and the general tiredness that seemed woven into her limbs seemed to fade.

 

“I would quite like that, yes.”

 

Ana smiled and turned to walk out of the clearing, following a well-worn footpath that lead through the wilds. Quickly Angela turned to give Amélie a hug and Satya a wave before following Ana down the familiar path.

 

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The Hut was just as Angela remembered it, quaint and nestled deep within the vines and ensnared within the tree roots. As always smoke puffed lazily from the chimney, and the stones that lead to the door seemed almost fully submerged into the ground, yet they never were whenever Angela walked their path.

 

Ana neared the door and Angela marveled at the door opening on its own, the house seeking to appease its master. Since the first time, Angela stepped foot into Ana’s abode the blonde always had to stop in the doorway and marvel at the size of the place. From the outside, it looked as though someone had strung a door to the trunk of a tree and placed and roof and chimney on top. However, the inside was quite possibly larger than the castles and mansions that also inhibited the lands of England.

 

Shelves lined the walls, packed with vials and ingredients many of which Angela had only read about in her spellbooks. Tomes and spellbooks alike adorned the bookcases within the house, many of which sat with layers of dust on them, though the cauldrons remained spotlessly clean, a testimony to Ana’s true talents.

 

“Go ahead and set your things in a spare room, I assume you’ll be staying here awhile? Then come to the kitchen, I’ve had a stew going all day. I presume Amélie will join us, oh! And Sombra, that familiar of her’s, I swear she eats more than Fareeha does!”

 

Angela laughed, “More than Reinhardt?”

 

Ana laughed, “No one eats more than that man…” The older witch trailed off, and Angela sighed wistfully. Angela thought for a moment, trying to think of a lighter topic for the woman before her, and herself.

 

With a smile, she asked, “How are Emily and Lena?”

 

The old woman smiled and shook her hands, elation in her eyes, “They’re doing well dear! I swear every time I see them Emily has that girl wrapped further and further around her finger…”

 

Her words made Angela smile. It had been a while now since Moria had come to their little town, hand in hand with her newly orphaned niece, unsure of how to care for such a child. Naturally, as witches do, Mei sensed her magic and directed her to Ana, where the older woman had basically raised the small girl. She herself had been nothing but a rowdy teen at the time, Fareeha and Bridgette both younger than her and closer in age with the new addition to their hodgepodge of a family. Moria had run off to the America's seeking glory and a name for herself, while Emily remained behind to learn how to use her surfacing magic. While Ana had been teaching herself and Emily how to control their magic there had been Fareeha and Bridgette, both born without magic though their mothers were powerful witches, pushed to the sidelines while their mothers taught their friends. For Brigette, this meant being rowdy with Fareeha or spending time with her father or Reinhardt, but for Fareeha who hadn’t a father of her own, she spent time with the “family” she did have. In recent years Angela would wonder if this childhood of being almost the second thought was what drove Fareeha to run away and join the army, dressing as a man and fighting alongside nights and nobles for some king who never once would see a battle with his own eyes. Emily had stayed, learning as much as she could, until one day a bubbly brit quite literally stumbled upon them even though no one should have been able to find them. There had been a knock on the door from a scrawny girl dressed in rags asking for directions to the closest town.

 

Amélie had found immense joy in making the girl squirm, getting into her head and figuring out what made her tick, until one day Lena had simply vanished before their eyes and reappeared a few minutes later asking why she had just relived the previous day. By then Angela was rushing off into the world looking for love and adventure, finding both in a man that nearly killed her while Ana and Emily taught a young Lena how to control her seemingly sporadic abilities. Bridgette was working in the shops with her father, making swords and hammers and guns while Fareeha was at war. Amélie and Satya selling fortunes in which the two would then make true, while the former made plans to marry.

 

When Angela came back, running from the cold body she left in her sheets, Emily had been sitting with a scrappy looking dog, boring a striking resemblance to Lena. It was then that Angela learned of familiars and the possibilities that one woman could love another.

 

The sound of the door opening pulled Angela from her head and the blonde nearly dropped the bowl Ana had been handing her when she saw who walked in. Gone was the ruddy girl who tripped over her own feet with limbs too long to handle and in her place stood a mountain of a woman.

 

Muscles bulged from under the scratchy fabric of Fareeha’s cotton shirt, choppy collar length hair pulled into a small braid and tucked into the brim of her hat. Dark skin seemed to glow in the fire and candlelight, perfect white teeth gleaming when the woman laid eyes on Angela. And-

 

Oh dear god was she beautiful . Angela wondered how anyone could mistake the woman before her as a man or anything other than absolutely gorgeous . And then she spoke and dear god-

 

“Angela, good to see you.”

 

And her voice was husky and low, but not unfeminine. Laced with a delicious accent from the plains of her homeland, curling around the letters of her name in a smooth drawl.   

 

“I-it’s good to s-see you too.” She managed, though Angela could feel her cheeks heating up and the room seemed to grow a little warmer.

 

“Want me to take your things to a room?” Fareeha moved towards her with kindness in her features and concern in her tone, “I’m sure it was quite a walk to get here.”

 

Removing her bag from her shoulder, Angela handed Fareeha her satchel and staff, sputtering out a "thanks" in return.

 

Fareeha nodded then ducked through a doorway Angela knew led towards the spare rooms.

 

“When did...when did she get so-”

 

“Big?” Ana finished for her. Angela nodded and Ana merely smiled. A sadness entering her eyes as the woman sat down in a chair next to her, sliding Angela a mug while taking a sip from her own. Angela didn’t know when she had put on tea but it was warm and fresh. “Truthfully, I do not know. One day I remember looking down at my little girl and telling her to go outside and chase the squirrels while I cleaned the house and brewed, the next thing I know I’m turning around to watch my delinquent of a daughter run off with her friend to go join the ranks, shouting at the door for her to come back only for her to be long gone.”

 

Angela remembered that day, when she came to Ana’s for no real reason in particular other than to have a cup of tea with a friend, only to find the woman sitting at the table holding a photo, the house alive without her. Angela had walked to the kettle which was making tea itself and trying-and failing -to get it’s contents into one of the teacups when Ana had muttered the words, “Fareeha ran away.”

 

Instantly Angela grabbed her staff, turning it into its broom form in her hand, asking how long she had been gone. At the time Angela had been unsure what her intentions were, what was she going to do? Search down the whole forest until she found one scrappy girl? However, when Ana replied, “Two days,” Angela realized she was far too late. That had been the last time Angela saw Fareeha until her first wedding when Angela was looking out at the small crowd that had come to see them, her hands interlocked uncomfortably with her soon-to-be husband’s only to see Fareeha looking back at her. When the other girl noticed she had been seen she smiled a little sadly and waved. Angela nodded and watched as Fareeha turned and pushed her way through the crowd. Instantly Angela had wanted to run after her, to call out her name, more than she wanted to be married to the man in front of her, but before she could move and rough hand was grabbing her chin and forcefully pressing her lips to the pair of whiskey coated ones in front of her. And then she was married and being pulled along by her husband to their- his -house and thrown onto the bed.

 

She had shoved him off of her, claiming that he was squishing her body and that he was wrinkling her dress and that his stubble was too scratchy to be on her neck and a bunch of other obscenities, anything and everything to get him off of her.

 

Thankfully he had relented, claiming she killed the mood, only to grab a bottle of whiskey and try the same thing a few hours later. The second time Angela took candle wax and smeared it on her nightgown, claiming she had started her period, to which he grumbled and went to sleep. Never in her life had Angela been more relieved than she was when she was able to keep her last name instead of taking up Reyes, and she wrote as much to her cousin Jack the very next morning. To which he wrote back apologizing profusely for ever suggesting she and his friend Gabrial get together after her first suitor nearly beat her to death.

 

Nearly a week went by before he tried again, just as drunk if not more than the first time. However, this time Angela was ready, slipping many poisons from Amélie into his bottle of whiskey before giving him just enough to drink that it would look like he drank himself into an eternal sleep. Angela had run to the edge of the woods, flying on her broom to get to Ana, uncaring if she was caught. The blonde had stumbled into her hut, crying and fell to the floor on her knees showing the wealth of bruises she had gained throughout the night. Ana had instructed her to run as she had to her in the morning to the police, to tell them that she found her husband dead in the bed next to her and that she didn’t know how it happened.

 

So, the next morning Gabrial Reyes had been pronounced dead and Angela Ziegler had been pronounced a widow. To sell the lie Angela had worn black for a week along with enchanted necklaces to hide the marks on her skin, before moving back into her home, crying with relief that it was all finally over.

 

A month or so later she caught the eye of a wealthy man passing through from Nigeria, by the name of Akande Ogundimu. Then, it had become a game. Angela knew it wasn’t right, but she couldn’t convince herself it was wrong either. Akande was known for his “ruthless” tactics in business and having many concubines and children born from them. She was his third wife, he her second husband. Many called it the fates giving them each another chance. However, the town was shocked when only a few weeks after their marriage Akande was found dead in an ally, presumably shot in the back. It was the first time a gun had been in their little town, aside from the ones the king’s personal men owned. Angela had made sure to announce that she was going to visit family, claiming she wanted to tell them about her new husband whom she “loved dearly”. It had actually been planned by Amélie and herself as well as Ana that she would just cast a charm on one of his organs, make it fail, when Gerard offered to kill the man.

 

Initially, Angela had been shocked, until Amélie told her of the fortune Akande possessed in comparison to her husband’s own. So, if she had lost a husband, and the Lacroix’s got a little richer as well as herself then what did it matter? A bad man had been killed and Angela found that was strangely okay with her.   

 

Then Fareeha had shown up at his funeral and wrapped her arms around Angela tightly while they lowered his coffin into the ground and she felt as though she needed to cry, to sell this lie to Fareeha even though it felt dirty making her believe it all. Word had spread, rumors began as to who the man was holding Angela tightly at her late husband’s funeral. But then Fareeha went back to the army and the rumors died down a little. When the Shimada’s came to town with their money and their reputations. Angela’s “unfortunate” luck with husbands was forgotten in favor of any and all gossip surrounding the Shimada’s youngest son, Genji. Genji swept through the maidens of the village, two children bore in his wake. To try to amend their son's actions the Shimada’s agreed to marry off one of their sons to a woman of the village's choosing. By now no one wanted to affiliate with the family but no one had the power to tell them away, so, heads turned to Angela.

 

The witch had agreed, thinking Genji were to be her husband, and then she could be rid of that pig of a man like the Shimada’s had ordered those “bastard” children of his to death. Instead, she was introduced to their eldest son, Hanzo. At first, Hanzo seemed nice, kind, if not a bit reserved and Angela searched for a reason to kill him. When he offered to take her into the woods with him, for them to get to know one another better, Angela had no option but to accept.

 

On their way there in the carriage, Hanzo had turned to her and looked her in the eyes and told her simply, “I’m gay.”

 

For some reason, Angela didn’t find this odd, and merely nodded and said, “I see.” It was then she had admitted she’d fantasized about women more than once and a friendship of sorts was made between the two.   

 

Nearly an hour from the inn they were to stay at, they were ambushed by bandits. A man and a woman dressed in leather and guns, however, when the man laid eyes on Angela he lowered his gun and climbed into the carriage with them. His partner followed suit, albeit a bit confusedly, and they set off again to their destination.

 

The man had revealed himself to be Jessie and a friend of Fareeha. When asked for proof he shrugged and drawled, “You’re a witch, blondie.”

 

That had been enough for Angela.

 

When they reached the inn, Hanzo and Jessie left Angela with Jessie’s partner, whom she learned went by “Ashe”.

 

Angela walked into her room, Ashe ahead of her, and closed the door behind her. The moment she turned around Ashe pressed her into the door and a raspy low voice was whispering, “So you’re a witch, huh? Never slept with one of those before…”

 

The next morning over breakfast Angela told Hanzo she thought she was gay too, and his only response had been, “I figured.”

 

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Walking down the hallway towards the rooms, feeling pleasantly warm from Ana’s tea, Angela stepped into the room that was always reserved for her.

 

On her bed sat her satchel, her staff leaning neatly on the bedpost. On the nightstand sat a burning candle, one that filled the room with hints of cinnamon and other scents Angela had never smelt before. On her bed, just next to her satchel was a stack of three books with something wrapped carefully in parchment paper on top.

 

Stepping into the room with a yawn, Angela picked up the item on top of the books, looking at it curiously.

 

A voice sounded from the doorway, “Its Frytour Blaunched, it’s a dessert from the castle, I thought...I thought maybe you’d like to try some.”

 

Angela turned with a smile to see Fareeha, leaning her wide shoulders against the doorway, “What is it?”

 

Fareeha grinned boyishly, just like she had when they were kids and stepped the rest of the way into Angela’s room. “It’s a type of fritter, you’ve had those before, correct?” Angela nodded and Fareeha pointed to the small fried object in her hands, “This one is honey covered and stuffed with ginger almonds.”

 

“From the castle you say?”

 

Again Fareeha grinned, “You could say I’m favored by a few of the cooks…”

 

Angela smiled and looked down at the pastry in her hands, “Well, go on then, take a bite!” With Fareeha’s words, Angela bit into the treat in her hands and moaned at the taste.

 

“Mmm, Fareeha! This is delightful!”

 

Looking up into brown eyes, Angela saw mirth and something... else there. “Good, I’m glad you like it.” They stood for a moment, looking into each other’s eyes, the fritter in Angela’s hands making the paper it was wrapped in sticky and the room smell like ginger before Fareeha looked away. “Well, here’s some books I got from the vendors. One is from Spain, another from Ireland and the last from Switzerland.”

 

Looking down Angela saw the familiar title of a childhood book looking back at her, “Fareeha!” Whipping her head around she came face to face with the other woman’s smile, “How, where did you find this? Oh mein gottI!”

 

Fareeha laughed, “I’ve told you, the market is full of vendors from all over.” Laughter filled her voice but there was softness in her eyes. A softness that Angela found comforting and wanted to dive into.

 

There was a lull in their easy conversation where Angela desperately wished she had something to say before Fareeha broke the silence between them. “Well, I’ll leave you be. Get some rest Angie, come find me whenever...it would be nice to catch up after all these years, yeah?”  

 

Nodding, Angela picked up one of the books, thumbing through it, “Wait!” She felt more than heard Fareeha stop in the doorway and turn to look at her, “Would you...would you care to stay and read with me?”

 

The moment she said it Angela knew it sounded stupid, but Fareeha was looking at her like that so maybe it wasn’t so stupid after all.

 

“Sure, but I’ll have you know I can’t read the languages…or at all...”

 

Smiling Angela gestured Fareeha in with her hand holding the book, placing the others on her nightstand, “That’s quite alright, I’ll read to you then.”

 

Quickly eating the rest of her fritter Angela took off her boots and placed them by her broom, removing her hat and resting it on a bedpost. Looking over to the other woman, Angela saw her awkwardly standing in between the bed and desk.

 

“Well, go ahead, take off some of that castle garb, I can’t imagine it’s very comfortable.”

 

Walking over to the desk Fareeha first took off her hat, then bent down to take off her boots. Angela sat on the bed, watching the process unfold before her. With her boots off Fareeha lost a few inches though she still remained a good head taller than Angela, and with her hat off her wavy hair stopped just above her collar bones. Taking off her overcoat Angela was surprised to see pads sewn to the shoulders.

 

Even without her coat Fareeha still had broad shoulders, not entirely feminine but less masculine. Unbuttoning the first few buttons of her shirt Fareeha turned to Angela, suddenly unsure, “Do you mind?”                                

 

At first, Angela thought Fareeha was asking her to turn away, until she saw the wrap around her chest the girl was gesturing to, “Oh! No, no of course not.”

 

Getting up, Angela approached Fareeha whose shirt was almost fully off. When she stood behind the other girl she stood in nothing but her pants and wrap, and Angela couldn’t help but drink in the dark skin presented to her.

 

“All this, just to join the army?” Angela couldn’t imagine going through so much trouble to hide her identity just to fight senseless battles for someone else over something as stupid as land.

 

Fareeha hummed, “I take it you are against the wars?”

 

The witch understood that it was human nature to fight, that no matter what there would always be wars, “I don’t know that I’m against them so much as I am you being in them. I mean, it’s not like there will never not be a war, but there’s only one you, and it seems a shame that there could be a time when there’s not a you.”

 

“With that kind of mentality, no one would fight.” Angela finished helping Fareeha with her wraps and the soldier shrugged her shirt back on, turning to Angela while she buttoned the buttons.

 

Something inside Angela spoke without her consent and the next thing she knew she was pushing Fareeha’s hands away, “Here let me.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

With Fareeha more comfortable Angela moved to the bed in the corner of the room. Nothing big or particularly fancy, but comfortable and homey all the same. Climbing in first and resting her back against the headboard, she patted the bed next to her.

 

Somewhere between chapter two and twenty Fareeha’s head went from the second pillow to Angela’s stomach and Angela’s left hand went from helping her right hold up the book to running through Fareeha’s thick black hair.

 

Around chapter thirty Angela noticed the candle was going out and looked down to find Fareeha asleep partially on top of her. Smiling to herself the blonde closed the book and put it on the nightstand, blowing out the candle before slipping lower against the pillow under her back until she could comfortably feel Fareeha’s warm breath mingling with her own.

 

Chapter Text

Angela woke up to the sound of barking and felt something stir around her. Opening her eyes Angela looked down at her midsection to see a strong arm holding her securely there.

 

Oh.

 

“Ugh, fucking Lena and that dog shit.”

 

The voice grumbled from above her and Angela rolled over in the arms holding her to come face to face with Fareeha.

 

“Mornin’,” she greeted, smile blinding.

 

The blonde furrowed her brows and leaned closer to Fareeha, the Amari’s smile dropped off her face and her cheeks dusted pink but Angela was focused on staring at her countenance. Something seemed…. off . Finally, when Angela's nose touched the tip of Fareeha’s, she was able to spot what had her so vexed.

 

“Your tattoo!”

 

Fareeha laughed, “Just notice that Angie? I know you’re older than me, but damn do you need glasses?”

 

Angela blushed, now that she had noticed it it was rather difficult to un notice.The black ink looped out from under her right eye and took up a decent amount of space on her cheek bone.

 

“Is it the same as your mother’s?” The witch thought back to Ana’s tattoo, the one she always thought looked awfully painful when she was younger.

 

“A little different,” the Amari replied, sitting up. Fareeha stretched, her shirt riding up to expose a thin line of dark skin ridged with muscles.

 

Angela may have salivated a little at the thought. Then the witch remembered that the night before Fareeha had taken her wrap off and that she essentially wasn’t wearing any sort of covering over her-

 

Oh my.

 

“Well, I’m going to go see Emily and Lena, maybe snag some breakfast if mom’s made any yet.” Fareeha began to stand and momentarily Angela racked her brain for any sort of reason to get the other woman to stay. What had gotten into her lately?

 

“When do you have to go back?”

 

Fareeha stilled in pulling her socks on, looking up at Angela from her seated position on the floor, “Back to what?”

 

“The army, er...uh ranks.”

 

The other woman shrugged, “I’m not sure, when they send for me? I’ve gotten a bit of a break since there aren’t any battles to be fought at the moment. I’ll ride out to town today or tomorrow to check.”  

 

Angela watched the young Amari from her seated position on her bed, “Town like, King’s Row or town like town town?”

 

Fareeha smiled standing from the floor and draping her overcoat over her arm, “ Town town, you can say Gibraltar.” The soldier spoke with a laugh but Angela blushed.

 

“To be honest I’ve been so focused with our little town I forgot there was more to the municipality than just King’s Row.”

 

A thunderous laugh filled the room and Angela smiled at the sound, “Why Angela, you should see the world more. Come with me, we’ll go to the market like I mentioned. In fact, let’s make a day of it! After breakfast we’ll go and wander the stalls all day, and oh! I have a wonderful trail we can ride back on!”

 

If you had asked Angela, in that moment, to say no she would have told you that it was simply impossible to. Because right now, Fareeha Amari was waving her hands around and talking with so much joy and enthusiasm that it took Angela back to when they were young and in that moment to tell her “no” would have been like telling a fish it couldn’t swim.

 

“Okay, yeah, let’s do it. You brought your horse?”

 

Fareeha smiled, a light in her eyes Angela hadn’t seen since they were small making an appearance for the first time in years, “Of course, I don’t go anywhere without Hammond...literally.”   

 

Angela sighed while Fareeha walked out of the room, still howling with laughter, if there was one thing she didn’t miss about Fareeha Amari it was her absolutely terrible sense of humor.

 

Okay, maybe she missed it just a little. But only just.

 

Or, maybe a lot.

 

Okay yeah, a lot.

 

A lot, okay! Okay.

 

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The first thing Angela noticed opon walking down the long hallway that opened up into the kitchen, was Lena happily bounding around the room in her familiar form.

 

“Lena!” all at one the brownish-orange dog stopped, tongue hanging out from one side of its mouth, the extra long fluff of fur on its head falling haphazardly around its ears and eyes. Making her way into the kitchen Angela watched as Emily knelt down in front of the dog and rubbed behind its ears, pressing the front of her face into the dog’s head full of fur and whispering words of enchantment. The dog’s tail wagged, until the dog was no longer a dog but a human resting on her hands and knees on the floor. Emily pulled back with a smile, pale freckled hands still in short messy hair. “Hello love, wasn’t too painful?”

 

Lena’s chipper voice piped up in true excited Lena fashion, “Course not luv! Ay! Reeha, I see you over there! Come give me a hug!” And then Lena was running over to Fareeha, much like she had been running around the room only moments earlier. On her way to Fareeha she passed by Angela, stopping to shout an “Ello, luv!” and gave her a surprisingly strong hug given her frame before barreling into Fareeha.

 

Angela smiled at Fareeha, who picked up the girl and twirled her around, before turning back to look at Emily who was sat on the floor, looking at Lena with what Angela could only describe as “all the love in the world”.

 

Making her way through the kitchen, Angela sat down on the floor near Emily, shooting the girl a smile when she looked towards her. “Hey, how are you?”

 

Emily smiled but she looked tired, there were dark circles under her eyes, “Good, good. Just...just a little tired.”

 

Angela frowned, “Are you okay? Lena’s not keeping you up is she?” Anegla blushed a moment after when she realized the implications of her words, “You uh, you know what I mean.”

 

Smiling, Emily shook her head turning her gaze towards her girlfriend, “No, she’s been making me sleep believe it or not. Every night it’s ‘go to bed Emily’ or ‘c’mon luv, time to sleep’ oh, and my personal favorite, ‘don’t worry Em, I won’t burn the house down’.” The redhead chuckled, “I’ve just been worried about Auntie Moria. It’s so expensive to send letters overseas you know and I want to tell her I plan to marry Lena but, I’m afraid for her health Angela. The trip over there nearly killed her and I can’t ask her to risk it again by coming back, but she’s...she’s the only real family I have left. I can’t just get married without her being there.”  

 

The blonde placed what she hoped was a comforting hand on the redhead’s shoulder, “Does Lena know?”

 

Emily smiled, laughing slightly, “God’s no, she’d drag me off to the nearest church and have us married as soon as possible.”

 

Angela gasped, “You’re going to get married publicially? That’s ill-you’ll get burned and she’ll get killed!”

 

The redhead shook her head, “Fareeha knows a pastor who’s okay with...things like that. And Lena can always do what Fareeha does and dress like a man, we’ve got a name for her and everything, whole backstory.”

 

For a moment Angela just stared at the other woman, noticing for the first time perhaps, how much she’d grown since they were kids, “You’re serious aren’t you? You’re really gonna marry Lena and the whole thing?”

 

Emily only smiled, “I didn’t make her my familiar so she’d get away from me you know. I love her Angela, she’s the one. She’s it for me.”

 

The blonde could only pull her friend into a tight hug, “I’m happy you have each other, Em. Say, would you two want to come to the market with Fareeha and I later? We plan on walking through the stalls all day but you don’t have to stay the whole time if you don’t want.”

 

For a moment it looked as if the other woman might refuse, then she looked over at Lena who was watching Ana with wonder in her eyes while the older woman started making a potion. “Alright, I know Lena would love it she’s practically a child...and I think it could...take my mind off things.” Emily turned back towards Angela and the blonde couldn’t exactly place the look on her face, “Get someone who keeps you young Angela, someone who makes you feel exactly as you were when you were young and free, before you knew all the horrors of the world.”

 

Looking away for a moment, Angela pondered on when Emily had become so wise just as much as she pondered her words. Just then, Amélie sat on the floor next to the two witches.

 

Mon dieu (my god) , Emily! You’d think you’ve been spending time with Satya and I with the words you speak!” Emily laughed, and Amélie smiled.

 

There was a hurried pitter of feet and then Lena was plowing into Amélie, somehow not spilling the cup of tea she was holding, “Amélie!”

 

Smiling, the prim witch looked down at the woman in her lap gently brushing some of her fringe out of her eyes with slender bluish-ly pale fingers. The bubble brit looked over to the red head next to her, thrusting the cup of tea towards her, “‘ere ya go luv! Ana says it’ll give ya some energy!”     

 

Emily smiled, carefully taking the full cup of tea from her lover, leaning forward to kiss her cheek. “It still amazes me, to this day, how you never manage to hurt yourself or others with your energy, my love.”

 

Lena’s face froze for a moment, and Angela laughed at the ability to see the other woman’s thought process as she thought through her lover’s words, before simply shrugging and sliding off Amélie to go see what Fareeha was doing.

 

Amélie watched her go, a fond look on her eyes and face before she steeled herself back to her regular countenance. “So, Angela, when will you take yourself a familiar?”

 

The question made the witch pause, as the two women nearest her turned their heads, awaiting an answer. “I-...I don’t know, I’ve never-I’ve never thought about a familiar before.”

 

Oh but was she thinking about it now.

 

Ana came into the lounge, brushing past the chair Sombra had appeared in-from where Angela wasn’t sure but that wasn’t her business anyway-and sat on the couch with the cushions that seemed to mold themselves around you. The door opened and closed at with it went Fareeha and Lena with an axe and a pair of gloves. “They only help, however, there are costs that come with making a bond like that.”

 

Angela thought of Lucio, a caring and friendly warlock driven mad with the death of his familiar, a frog. Then there was Satya, whom without a familiar owned a pet raven that acted in much the same fashion. “What about you, Ana, why haven’t you a familiar?”

 

The older woman sipped her tea, “I’m not in the business of making bonds of that nature. Not when I had young witches and warlocks to teach, and a daughter to raise.”

 

“I must admit, having the extra power is rather appealing, but given Amélie and Emiliy’s certain... fondnesses towards their familiars I think I’d rather not chance it.” Satya spoke up from the hallway, and Angela tried not to gasp too loudly when she noticed the other woman without any makeup.

 

Emiliy shrugged, “Yes but that’s different. I found a woman and turned her into a familiar.”

 

Satya laughed, “Different how? Because you didn’t select a spirit in the conventional way?”

 

Looking towards the chair Amélie lazily gestured her finger towards the purple cat sitting there, “Come darling, join us why don’t you?”

 

Then there was a woman sitting where the cat previously was and Angela remembered why Sombra was in her familiar form so often. Nothing about the girl was conventional and for her to be seen by the public eye was basically sucicide. With a half shaved head and purple locks, not to mention her interesting taste in clothing style...Sombra made for quite the character.

 

“Ah, did you want a kiss mi amor (my love) ?” Sombra’s accent was foreign and strong, but with an undertone that rubbed Angela in the wrong ways.

 

Amélie gestured towards the woman in the chair, “See, Satya, you can…. intermingle with your familiar even if they were given to you by the spirits.”

 

Satya shook her head, rubbing her eyes with her hands and not for the first time Angela wondered how the other woman managed without poking an eye out. “Ana, please tell me you have coffee in this house or so help me it’s too early for this.”

 

Emily laughed, “What? Leaves not doing it for you?”

 

The woman in question shook her head, getting up to search through Ana’s many cabinets for the beans of her desire.

 

Suddenly, the door to The Hut was thrown open and Mei came bustling in, “Who let Lena wield an axe? I swear, I haven’t had that much freight since the plagues!” While Amélie and Satya laughed, Angela furrowed her brows. She had forgotten Mei was perhaps older than Ana.

 

“I suppose I should go check on them huh? Got everything ready for the market?” Emily stood from her place on the floor and deposited her mug in the kitchen before turning to wait for Angela by the door.

 

“Almost!” Getting up, Angela rushed to her room and grabbed her boots, making sure to put on a dress suitable for riding, before shooting a longing glance at her staff at leaving her room.

 

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Outside of The Hut Fareeha was finishing fastening the saddle on her horse and Emily was walking towards Lena who was readying an axe to split logs. When the brit swung the axe downward her lower half came off the ground with the force and Angela watched in equal parts amusement and horror as Lena flew up from the ground, axe soaring between her legs and hitting its mark in the timber below it.

 

There was a cry from Fareeha, telling Lena to be careful and a terrified shriek from Emily on her left. Angela, however, shot a chilling glare towards Fareeha.

 

“Fareeha Amari! How dare you allow her to use the axe!”

 

The egyptian froze, shoulders bunched and eyes squeezed shut as she slowly turned to face Angela. With a sheepish look on her face, Angela watched the knight rub the back of her neck, “Sorry Angie, I didn’t think it was gonna be that bit of a deal.”

 

By now the witch had marched right up in front of the soldier and was pointing an accusatory finger in her face while Emily was holding a confused Lena in a tight embrace, her skin still a little pale.

 

The witch turned back to look at Fareeha and found herself sighing, “Let’s just...get this party on the road, shall we?”

 

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Hammond, Fareeha’s horse, seemed content to have his master walk beside him, holding the reins while Angela and Emily rode on his back. At Fareeha’s heels Lena trotted along lazily in her familiar form, seemingly content to walk the whole way as long as Emily was nearby.

 

While Fareeha had put on her knight’s uniform, dressing as a man to play her part as a loyal soldier, Emily and Angela both dressed in their most classy dresses that still remained relatively casual.

 

“So, Angela, have you ever been the market before?” Emily asked, breaking the comfortable silence the group found themselves in.

 

Not daring to look behind her at the red head for fear of falling off the horse, Angela instead focused on the stoney path ahead of them. “I’ve been to a few in Germany and Switzerland when I was young, and I believe the one in Gibralter when I first moved here, but that was the last one.”

 

Angela heard more than saw the smile in the redhead's voice, “Well, maybe you can find a few spellbooks here, or some candy from your homelands.”   

 

Below them Fareeha tisked, “I would caution you against buying any spellbooks or tomes, many find even the vendors selling such items worthy of trail, for you to buy them would basically out yourself as a witch or someone interested in the craft.” Lena barked, almost as if in agreeance.

 

The blonde scoffed, “What of their healers? Do the townsfolk still call them witches?”

 

Turning to look at her, Fareeha nodded, “Sadly yes, people fear what they cannot understand, Angela. In fact, I get many strange looks for the ink I wear, the only thing keeping people from saying anything against me is the duty I serve and the honor I have earned.”

 

Reaching her hand out, Angela hesitantly placed her hand on Fareeha’s shoulders, feeling the muscles tense there before relaxing.

 

Her hand remained there for the remainder of their trip.

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The market was full of life and color and people and for once in her life Angela felt a little overwhelmed. Gibraltar was the home of the King, and it made sense that the micropolis would be large enough to accommodate a castle and city full of people.  

 

Fareeha smiled at the knights in armour at the gates smiling as she introduced Emily and Angela as friends of her’s, and got them in without the usual fee, Lena following dutifully behind. Walking to the stables, Fareeha held out her arm to help Emily down, before repeating the process with Angela. There they parted ways, Emily wandering off with Lena trailing close to her heels, tail tucked between her legs to avoid it getting stepped on, while Angela watched as Fareeha tied up her horse to one of the posts.

 

The egyptian poured oats from her saddle bag into a nearby trough and made sure another was full of water, allowing the horse to nuzzle her neck with his nose while she whispered her thanks into his ears.

 

Angela smiled and found the entire interaction endearing.

 

Walking towards her, Angela held out her arm so Fareeha could loop her’s through it, making sure her hat covered her hair before leading Angela into the crowds of people mingling about.

 

“So, where to?”

 

Looking up at her companion Angela found she couldn’t wipe her seemingly permanent smile off her face. “I don’t know, you tell me, you’re the one who knows where everything is.”

 

Squeezing the arm looped through her own gently with her free hand Fareeha replied, “Very well.” Before leading them towards their new destination.

 

Soon, a heavenly smell made its way to Angela’s nose, and the blonde couldn’t help but notice how hungry she was at the moment, “I suppose you wouldn't fancy telling me where we’re going, would you?”

 

“You ought to be hungry by now, and it just so happens that I know the best place to eat in the city.”

 

What Angela wasn’t expecting was a pub with a sign painted on the doors advertising in big lettering, “NO WOMEN.” Tugging on the arm around her own, Anegla pulled her companion to a halt. “Fareeha, it says no woman.”

 

The witch got a smile in return, “I’ll go in, it will just take me a minute, then we can walk a place to sit. Okay?”

 

Briefly the blonde looked at the crowds and crowds of people around them, she very much wanted to tell Fareeha that, no, it was not okay for her to leave her in a place like this, but then she got another whiff of the air around them and her stomach growled and ok, admittedly a little food would be nice right about now.

 

Fareeha smiled down at her, before placing a kiss to the crown of her head and walking into the pub before them. Angela glanced around again before realizing now one was paying a bit of attention to her, before she felt something warm and small pull at her hand.

 

“‘Scuse me, miss, but do you have any money to spare? O-or food, par-haps?”

 

Looking down Angela found herself looking into the eyes of a small girl no older than four, while a boy a bit older-presummedly her brother-scanned the streets around them with careful eyes.

 

When it seemed Angela had taken too long to answer, the boy looked at her with an admittedly cold glare before putting a dirty hand on his sister’s shoulder, “C’mon, Molly, this lady ain’t got nothin’ fer us.”

 

Just then Angela saw Fareeha appear in the corner of her eyes and the kids immediately brightened up.

 

“‘Reeha!” They cooed, their voices making a cacophony of a chorus that still somehow sounded sweet in only the way children’s voices could.

 

The soldier’s face brightened and she immediately dropped to one knee, holding out her arms, “Molly! Jackson! Just the two kids I was looking for!”

 

The kids ran to her, throwing themselves into her broad frame, wrapping their tiny hands around her neck and clinging tightly. Angela had never been so jealous and touched by a sight in all her life.

 

Standing up Fareeha gestured for Angela to take a step closer, “I see you’ve met my friend Angela?”

 

After hearing her name, the two kids turned to look at her, and the malice in Jackson’s seemed all but gone.

 

“A friend of ‘Reeha’s is a friend of ours, right Molls?”

 

The little girl just stretched out her arms towards Angela, making a grabbing motion with her tiny appendages.

 

Angela carefully took the girl into her arms after catching Fareeha’s pointed stare, and positioned her on her hip awkwardly. She didn’t like kids all that much, finding them too this or that, and had never held one before save for the one time she had held a small Fareeha to her chest at the tender age of seven, Fareeha having been two at the time and still quite small. Needless to say, now she hadn’t the slightest idea of how to hold a child, but Molly stuck her face into the crook of her neck, her curly blonde locks brushing Angela’s chin, and locking her small but firm hands behind her back, just at the nape of her neck.   

 

Fareeha must have approved, if the way she smiled and nodded once, sharply, before turning and walking away clutching a bag off food in one arm and an excitable Jackson in the other.

 

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Angela had dutifully  followed Fareeha to the edge of the market, arms growing numb with the weight of a snoozing Molly when the egyptian finally stopped and gently set Jackson down and turned towards Angela.

 

“I know it’s not exactly the most glamorous of places but the grass is soft and the weather is nice.” Gently, more gently than Angela thought possible for someone of Fareeha’s stature, the egyptian scooped up the small child from her arms, gently waking her and sitting down with the small girl in her lap. Immediately Jackson crawled closer to her, his brown hair falling into his eyes before Fareeha brushed it aside when her leaned into her.

 

Angela could only look on in awe, only moving to sit next to the other woman when she patted the grass next to her.

 

Opening the bag between her legs, Fareeha pulled out five sandwiches, handing one to Angela, one to Molly, and one to Jackson, setting one out for herself in the grass next to her before placing the extra on back in the back.

 

A bit hesitantly Angela began to unwrap the sandwich from its paper before turning to see Jackson and Molly already biting into theirs. Fareeha smiled down at the boy, moving her hand that wasn’t holding the girl in her lap steady to brush some hair from the boy’s eyes, “It’s time to give you another haircut, boy.”

 

Furrowing his brows Jackson looked up to Fareeha, “Peter said I looked like a little girl the last time you cut my hair, can we do something cooler this time?”

 

Laughing, Fareeha ruffled the boy’s hair, “‘Course we can kiddo, whatever you want.”

 

The boy smiled, taking a big bite from his lunch, “Cool!”

 

To which Fareeha replied, “Don’t talk with your mouth full.”

 

Neither kid said anything about her mouth being full too.  

 

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Jackson and Molly finished their lunches long before Fareeha and Angela had even made it halfway through their own, and Anegla watched as Fareeha handed over the bag with the extra sandwich to the kids with a ‘be safe’ and the promise of a haircut.

 

Both kids had given Fareeha tight hugs before turning and giving herself one, Molly shortly and Jackson a bit shyly. With that, the duo ran off into the streets, clutching the bag tightly and calling to Fareeha behind them.

 

When they had both disappeared into the crowded streets around them Angela turned to Fareeha. “So...they were nice.”

 

Fareeha chuckled, setting the tiny bit of her sandwich left down with a sigh. “Sorry, I’ve-I suppose I’ve become a bit of a legend among the street kids. I feed them when I see them, sneaking them into safe places to sleep when I find them on the streets at night. I-I do what I can. I’m sorry they butted into our time together, but I’m not sorry for helping them.”

 

The egyptian spoke with conviction and Angela felt her hug tug in her chest, “You’re very kind Fareeha. Not many would take the time to care for them.”

 

The other woman shrugged, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around her knees, looking at her feet. “I just wish I could to more, you know? I wish I could do more then help them only when I can, I wish I could off them something stable, consistent. God knows they deserve it.”

 

Scooting closer, the witch rested her head on the soldier’s broad shoulder, “On the contrary, I think you do more than you know.”

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Walking the stalls prooved to be far more interesting than Angela had originally thought, the witch finding much fascination in the goods from places far away.

 

Having brought no money of her own, fully intending on just browsing, Angela was pleasantly surprised when Fareeha pulled out her own satchel of coin and purchased a book Angela had been looking at intently only moments earlier. The blonde had thanked the other woman to which Fareeha merely waved her off and the witch thought that had been the end of it.

 

Little did the witch know, that that was, in fact, just the beginning. Angela had gently been running her fingers along a beautiful teapot and cup set, admiring the pink roses painted along the glossy white surface when Fareeha had flagged the vender down, asking how much.

 

It was then the witch reserved herself not to touch anything else.

 

Somehow Fareeha still noticed Angela looking at a pile of fabrics and bought those too.

 

By the end of the day, the pair were walking back towards the stables arms laden with goods from here and there, near and far.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

When they reached the stables there had been a note pinned to the wood of Hammond’s post, written in Emily’s beautifully loopy scrawl, ‘gone home early, see you there -Em.’

 

Fareeha had loaded their items into Hammond’s saddle bags, before turning to Angela and asking if she desired dinner. The blonde had politely declined, feeling as though she had spent enough of Fareeha’s coin in one day when she had so much of her own to spare, feigning still being full for lunch. The egyptian eyed her carefully, clearly not believing her, however did not push the matter. Instead, she helped Angela onto the horse before hopping on herself and leading them out of town.

 

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The sunset had been beautiful to watch from the vantage point Fareeha had stopped them at, but now Angela sat in the saddle huddled as close as she could get to Fareeha longing to be back in the moment when the other woman had been holding her closer as they watched the moon chase the sun from the sky. As if sensing her distress Fareeha handed the reins to Angela who gripped them with terror running through her veins while the soldier had removed her overcoat and handed it to Angela in exchange for the reins.

 

When the witch slipped her petite frame into Fareeha’s coat she was immediately engulfed in warmth and the sweet smell of spice and something distinctly foreign and Fareeha.

 

Eventually the gentle trot of the horse and warm from Fareeha’s coat began to lure the witch to sleep. Resting her head on Fareeha’s back, the witch’s last thought before drifting to sleep was that none of her previous husbands had ever offered her their coat and how Fareeha seemed to naturally be better than all of them combined without even trying.

 

With that thought the witch fell asleep with a smile on her face.  

Chapter Text

The witch woke to sun shining in her face and the blonde scrunched up her eyes, sitting up and putting a hand in between her eyes and the window, shielding herself from the sun’s harsh rays.

 

Her first coherent thought had been, “When did this room get a window?” Closely followed by, “There’s talking in the kitchen.”

 

Pushing the sheets aside, Angela turned and set her feet on the floor, squinting at the window that hadn’t been there the morning before.

 

This house hated her.

 

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Walking down the hall, the whispers grew louder until Angela stood at the end of the hall, where to ceased altogether.

 

Ana was the first to break the awkward silence, “Angela! Good morning dear. Good to see you.”

 

Gathered around the huge dining table, a slab of wood cut from the same tree as the stump in the woods, were all the witches Angela knew.

 

Ana sat at the far end, directly across from where Angela was still stood in shock. To her right was a tired Moira, followed by Emily with a sleeping Lena at her feet.

 

The O’Deorain-Oxton clan looked rather tired.

 

To Ana’s left sat Mei, followed by Amélie, Satya, and Ingrid who was silently observing. Sombra was lounging contentedly on Amélie’s lap.  

 

Hesitantly the blonde took a step into the room, taking the seat closest to her, which left her on the opposite side of the table from everyone else. Two chairs on either side separating her from her family.  

 

“What’s...going on?”

 

Emily exchanged a glance with Ana, before looking down to her two hands engulfing her aunt’s own.

 

Amélie opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by Moira, “Well, Angela, let me start off by saying how lovely it is to see you, dear. And, let me congratulate you on another success, I must say, when I was told about your little game I was quite impressed.”

 

“I-thank you, Moira.”

 

The other woman smiled, a predatory look in her off coloured eyes and toothy smile. Angela remembered why she was happy when the redhead left.

 

“And I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here, no?” Angela nodded, because, yes, she was. “Satya, what a brilliant witch indeed, has finally perfected her craft of teleportation. Much like Lena’s own...abilities”-Angela did not miss the way Emily bristled-”and fetched me from the states when we caught word of your rather... concerning news.”

 

Pausing, Angela could not think of what she could have done to warrant news being spread about her. Looking over to Emily, one of her closest friends since the days they schooled together under Ana’s care, for an explanation. For the first time since entering the room, Angela caught the look on the redhead’s face. The tiredness, but also the anger. Anger that was simmering just below the surface, if the witch had to bet, the younger woman hadn’t heard a single word of the conversation.

 

Finally Mei ended her confusion.

 

“The market, Angela. Someone from King’s Row saw you at the Market.”

 

Oh, and what? Someone saw her at the Market, so?”

 

Someone saw her at the market….

 

Someone from King’s Row….

 

Oh.

 

“You mean-?”

 

Ana cut her off, motherly anger in her voice that Angela hadn’t heard for years, “Did you, forget perhaps, the reason why you were staying at my abode? About the marriage, the murder?”

 

At both the words, “marriage” and “murder” Angela felt herself flinch.

 

“Yes...yes I suppose I did. What-what did they say?”

 

“If it had been just you, alone, people wouldn’t have spoken...as much, seeing as Gibralter is on the way to King’s Row. However, you were with Fareeha, and to an outsider it appeared as though you were with another man .” Amélie stated, her voice giving away no emotion.   

 

Scheiße ! (shit)

 

Another voice sounded from the hallway, confused and tinged with sleep, “Murder? What, Angela, what’s happening?”

 

For a moment, Angela wondered why Fareeha asked her of all people to explain, not her mother, however, this thought was overshadowed by a different thought.

 

Fareeha didn’t know. Fareeha never knew.

 

“I-” Angela started but quickly realized she didn’t know where to go from there, how to finish.

 

“Angela?” Fareeha pleaded, she must have sensed the tension in the room.

 

Taking a deep breath, the witch tried again, “I...my past marriages...they’ve been well...setups.”

 

Fareeha crossed her eyes, standing defiantly as always, “Setups how?”

 

“I…”

 

“How, Angela?”

 

“I killed them for their money!”

 

Slowly the blonde opened her eyes, afraid of what she’d find.

 

Standing at the edge of the hallway Fareeha looked impassive, Lena still snoozed happily at her lover’s feet.

 

Then Fareeha was walking, moving towards the door and yanking her overcoat off the hook before slamming the door behind her.  

 

For a moment all Angela could do was sit and stare, sit and stare at the spot Fareeha had been standing only moments ago.

 

Slowly she turned to face the table, to face Ana.

 

For once the old witch looked as old as she was, weathered, weak.

 

“What, what just happened?” Angela asked, how was this any different than what Fareeha did? She killed people too.

 

When Ana spoke, it was carefully, almost like she was holding back tears, “When Fareeha-when Fareeha ran away, all those many years ago, it was after we had argued.” The blonde could only watch in shock as the older woman leaned back in her chair, a tear rolling down her cheek. “When you came to me, two days later, and I told you Fareeha had run away you yelled, and you shouted, and you asked me why I wasn’t gone to. Why I wasn’t searching for my daughter, why I hadn’t. Because I didn’t. Fareeha and I, maybe it was me, god knows it wasn’t her, but we never quite saw eye to eye. Fareeha was-is-much like her father was. Kind, caring, gentle beyond anything else and so, so very understanding. But, she was like me, too. Strong, independent, motivated... stubborn and insistent. That day we got talking about her father, she had been asking me for years to let her go, to let her see him, and that day I had been particularly annoyed over a potion, and had had enough. I yelled and I told her there was nothing left for her to see, that her father hadn’t left but that I had killed him. So, when she left, I didn’t bother chasing her. It was an end to something that had been building for years, ever since I killed her father, much like you killed your husbands, unknowing that I was pregnant. And that day, that day it all came to a head.”

 

Somewhere during it all Angela had started crying, softly and she wasn’t entirely sure why only that she wished she’d stop. Amélie handed her a doily that looked far to fancy to wipe her snot on but she did it anyway.

 

They sat in silence, Ana lost in years choices that stemmed from one mistake, Angela deep in thought, everyone else speechless, and Lena still asleep, damn her. Eventually, Ingrid spoke, having not said a word since Angela walked in.  

 

“The Shimada’s caught word of you being in Gibraltar, they’re pressing charges.”

 

Chapter Text

Angela felt alone sitting on one of the worn wooden benches of the courthouse, feeling the eyes of everyone she knew boring into the back of her head. To her left, behind the fencing in the ‘reserved for family’ section, remained three rows of empty chairs. There was a meow, and Angela subtly glanced down at her feet to see Sombra winding along her ankles, purring when she realized she had Angela’s attention.

 

The judge cleared his throat, “Miss Zeigler? I don’t suppose you know why you’re here?”

 

Looking up from her feet, Angela feigned innocence, she was nothing if not an actress; even if she was a little surprised she was still young enough to be deemed ‘miss'.

 

“No, I was told one of my friends, Mei-I’m sure you know her, lovely lady-oh, and anyway she sent for me, something about I was being summoned? And where is my husband, surely he was informed? Oh, how I haven’t seen him in practically ages!”

 

On the outside the witch knew she appeared a doting wife, loving, while on the inside she wanted nothing more than to throw up the second the words left her mouth.

 

By her ankles she swore she heard Sombra cackle.

 

She stepped on the cat’s tail-

 

-and received a scratch for it.

 

Making sure to look at the judge with open eyes, the witch watched as the judge’s expression seemed to soften.

 

“Miss Zeigler, I’m very sorry to inform you that your husband is...dead.”

 

Angela made sure to time her movements perfectly.

 

First, there was the shock, simply stare at the judge with a slack jaw and wide eyes; do not move.

 

Second, deny, “No, no this can’t be! Please, tell me it isn’t true, Genji-Genji is fine he-he has to be -”

 

Thirdly, sob; cover eyes and rub palms into face to appear redder.

 

“Miss Zeigler, I’m sorry-”

 

Angela wailed, “Oh please, not-not again! Not Genji, not my sweet Genji!”

 

The words made her sick, but there were murmerings in the crowd, people believed.

 

“Please, Miss Zeigler may I ask a few questions?”

 

Sniffing and ‘attempting’ to dry her tears Angela looked up at the judge-smiling gratefully at the woman who handed her a doily. “I-if you m-must…”

 

“We-you were spotted yesterday, in Gibralter at the markets. Why were you there?”

 

Shit.

 

“I-”-hide hesitance with sniffle-”was looking for supplies.”

 

“Supplies? For what?”

 

Shit. Shit. Shit.

 

The doors to the courtroom opened, slowly, but loudly with the silence of the room.

 

“Sorry! Sorry I’m late!”

 

That voice.

 

Angela turned, bleary eyed and confused, to see Fareeha hobbling through the door clutching her side.

 

The judge didn’t look angry, just...curious, “And...who are you?”

 

Limping- why was she limping -forward, Fareeha leaned on the railing seperating Angela and the judge from the townspeople.

 

In a voice Angela hadn’t heard, yet felt familiar with, Fareeha spoke lowly and gruffly. “I am Fara Amari, soldier in the king’s personal army.” (Fun fact, the name Fara means head; protector of family; or sunset. I had to look up men's names yeet)  

 

Angela observed the soldier, she looked...disheveled. Her hat was askew, but not enough to show the beads Angela knew adorned her hair, and her white shirt was untucked from the pants she always wore, not to mention stained a little red-

 

“You’re bleeding!”

 

In an instant Angela leapt from her chair and swatted Fareeha’s hands away from the place she was clutching. When the woman finally removed her hands, the crowd gasped at the bloody patch just under her right arm.

 

Fareeha turned to the judge, “You see, Miss Zeigler accompanied me to the market yesterday to buy supplies to treat my wound. I’m sure you know, but Mizz Zeigler is quite skilled in the field of medicine and well, she’s a childhood friend of mine and when she was passing through I thought I could ask her for some help.”  

 

Ah.

 

“Fara! What did I tell you about the stitching!”

 

Fareeha had the decency to look sheepish, “I’m sorry-” turning towards the judge-”I’m afraid I tore them while trying to mount my horse this morning. Now, if you don’t mind me asking, why was Miss Ziegler summoned?”

 

The judge nodded along, “Mr. Amari, Miss Ziegler was summoned to questioning about her late husband.”  

 

Angela wailed and buried her face in Fareeha’s shirt, clutching tightly at the fabric.

 

“Genji? What’s happened to him?”

 

Gently Fareeha guided a still crying Angela into her vacated chair, standing and letting the blonde bury her face into her side.

 

“Genji Shimada was found dead lying face down on his bed, we have yet to determine a cause of death.”

 

Angela cried harder, and from somewhere else within the courtroom she registered another wail of pain-presumably Genji’s mother.

 

Fareeha stepped forward, hand still gently cradling Angela’s head resting on her hip, “How can I help with the investigation? Genji was a good man, maybe a little rowdy at times but he made Angela happy and as her friend that was all that mattered to me. So, how can I help?”

 

There were a couple ‘aww’s from the crowd and Angela waited for the judge’s reply.

 

“Mr. Amari, while that is quite the valiant offer I should think you are in no state to do so.”

 

The blonde felt more than saw Fareeha make a show of looking down at the spot just under her arm. Rubbing the back of her neck and looking sheepish the soldier responded, “Ah, yes...well I suppose you’re right.” That got a couple of laughs from the crowd, apparently anyway Fareeha dressed or acted was more impressionable than Angela, ever.

 

Hitting his gavel on the podium, the judge clapped his hands together, “Well, I think it is about time this meeting came to a close. Any objections?”

 

There were none.

 

“Miss Ziegler, you may be dismissed.Again, very sorry about your husband.”

 

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Back at The Hut Angela angrily pointed a finger at Fareeha, who was sat on the kitchen table.

 

“Fareeha Amari! I cannot, cannot believe you actually cut yourself to have a viable story at my hearing!”

 

The soldier’s shirt was pulled up above a toned shoulder, while the witch gently observed the cut.

 

“I mean, what on earth were you thinking!

 

Being more prone to hold her patience longer than Angela, Fareeha was beginning to show the signs of her anger. “What were you thinking when you killed a man? Or the second? Third ? Hell, how many were there, Angela?”

 

“Oh don’t be a saint, Fareeha. How many people have you killed? How many faceless lives have you slain in the name of your king? How many bodies have you left to rot deserted on a field? How many ?”

 

The soldier lowered her head, and Angela felt as the hard lines of her face softened immediately.

 

“Twenty-three, Angela. Twenty-three. Four, were younger than me. I tried , Angela. I tried to save them all! I tried to remember what mother told me about anatomy, to make it quick. And I didn’t leave them on that battle field. I’ve carried dead men on my shoulders to bury them in the woods, I’ve slept among their graves that I dug with my hands . I’ve tried, Angela. I’ve flung myself into battles, I’ve tried to be the hero in hopes of dying that way, but I can’t... something inside me will never stop fighting.”

 

Angela stood, facing the hunched body of Fareeha, the soldier now openly crying. Her broad shoulders gently shook with her silent sobs and for once Angela saw a girl, not a woman, not a soldier- a girl, the girl she grew up with. The one who would bring her flowers and braid her hair and hold her hand when she was scared.

 

Stepping forward, the witch stood between the soldier legs and gently lifted her head until soft black hair brushed the side of her head. Placing two pale hands on broad dark shoulders, the witch rested the side of her head on Fareeha’s own. It had never occurred to her, that no one, possibly ever, had told the girl in her arms that it was okay . That it was all okay .  

 

“It’s okay, Fareeha. It’s okay .”

 

But nothing ever really was.

 

Because Fareeha would always be fighting.

 

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Amélie stopped by, bringing with her Sombra in human form, and Angela did not miss that they were holding hands. There had been many speculation about Amélie and her familiar. It was true that the woman loved her husband Gerard very much, but Amélie wasn’t the type of woman to settle. It was a trait Angela admired about her, her drive and passion, but it also led to...questionable things.

 

Simply, if there were power to be had, Amélie would get it. If there were money for her to spend on the next big thing, she would spend it. If there were strange women from unknown places with purple hair and strange talents...well, Amélie would have her too.

 

It was different for Emiliy and Lena, Lena having devoted herself to her lover and offering up herself as a familiar.

 

Angela found the action quite endearing.

 

But for Amélie and Sombra, well, it was a bit illegal considering Amélie’s marriage and all, but Angela assumed that added to their fun.

 

“I’m telling you Angie, a familiar will protect you, keep you safe, not to mention make you stronger. You can’t tell me that after recent events you aren’t considering it?” Emiliy asked from the floor, a sleeping Lena sitting in her lap with her arms around her shoulders and her head in the crook of her neck.

 

The blonde huffed, “Why is everyone pushing this familiar business on me suddenly? Have I missed something?”

 

Ana placed her tea on the kitchen table harshly, causing Angela to look over at her from her place in the living room. “Yes, apparently. Have you noticed all the looks the people are giving you? Were you not present in that courtroom yesterday? Have you forgotten that you killed a man nearly a week ago?”  

 

Oh, yeah...that .

 

“Of course I was there! And no, I haven’t forgotten about Genji, in fact I scheduled his funeral just the other afternoon after the hearing.”

 

“Isn’t that a bit soon? Won’t the people expect you to greve longer?” Moria asked.

 

Satya, whom Angela had just now noticed, added, “Better not buy a new dress, people will talk if you spend his money.”

 

The room seemed to be erupting with sound, noise , everyone sharing their thoughts and concerns. Emily asking her not to do it again, Ana telling her to keep her focuses straight, Amélie telling her she knew a rich man they could set her up with next, Satya spewing all the rumors she’d heard recently, Moira telling her about all the wealthy men she could find in America who thought not with the head on their shoulders but with the thing in their pants, and Mei telling her she would be more than happy to help with a cover story.

 

Lena continued to sleep while Sombra lounged with her feet propped up on the armrest of the couch she was sitting on, her head in Amélie’s lap where the woman was gently running her fingers though purple locks.

 

Fareeha continued to sit with her arm across the back of the couch-and subsequently Angela’s shoulders-with her legs crossed in front of her, tracing gently patterns on the blonde’s shoulder with her warm, rough finger pads.     

 

Wait, huh?

 

One voice spoke up above the other’s, not due to its loudness but because of the absolute absurdity which were the words that it spoke.

 

“I’ll do it.”

 

Everyone looked to the soldier in confusion, to which she merely shrugged her shoulders like the answer was obvious. “Angela, I’ll be your familiar, that way I can protect you and we can all stop having this pointless conversation that is doing nothing for the headache I’m currently nursing.”

 

Several things happened at once, Angela felt herself blush so extensiviling she’d thought her head was about to burst, Amélie laughed and caused Sombra to fall off her lap, Emily beamed, and Satya murmured something about ‘useless lesbians’.

 

Ana remained strangely silent.  

 

“Fareeha you-...I can’t-” Angela stumbled for a reply, unsure how she felt about the idea.

 

“What? I’m the only person not currently a witch of familiar and it would take too long for you to find someone when you’re dealing with problems now .”

 

Angela couldn’t believe her ears, “But, the army, the king’s ranks-

 

“You’ve said it yourself, Angela. I should stop fighting for a monarch who does nothing but sits on his throne all day while the rest of us do his bidding and pay his taxes. It’s time I fought for something I care about, something I believe in , and Angela, I believe in you.”

 

“I-,” Angela thought about it for a moment, the devotion, the sacrifice, the love , Fareeha was freely offering to her. “Can we talk?”

 

Standing from the couch Angela grabbed Fareeha’s hand and dragged her to her bedroom, trying to ignore the spark that jolted through her at the soldier’s touch.

 

“Fareeha, I don’t think you understand the true value of what you’re-”

 

The witch was silenced by the gentle, yet firm, press of the soldier’s lips on her own. Angela felt her back press into the door and Fareeha’s body press into her own before pulling away. Inhaling a shaky breath, the witch opened her eyes the other woman kneeling in front of her. Fareeha’s hands held her own at her sides, and deep brown eyes looked into Angela’s blue ones.

 

“Angela Ziegler, I have watched you grow into the brilliant and beautiful witch you are today since we were kids. I have stood by you and helped when I could, backed away when you needed space. I woke up every morning with the intention to make you smile and make you laugh at least twice before breakfast and as many times as I could before you lay down at night. My whole life I have wanted nothing but the best for you, and for you to succeed in everything and everything you ever wanted, even if you never wanted me. I kneel before you now, willing and ready to protect you until I can no more, and even then I wish my spirit leave my body and trail behind you in armor and protect you still. I kneel before you as a friend, familiar, and woman who has loved you all her life and will do whatever you ask no matter the cost or effects to myself. Who would crawl to the ends of the earth just to pick you a flower. I, Fareeha Amari, pledge myself to you, my witch.”  

 

In all her life, through three marriages and childhood where her family’s love for each other was stronger than the house they loved in, Angela had never felt more loved than she did in this exact moment.

 

To think that all those looks and small touches, smiles and blushes she had shared with the woman at her feet, that the feelings she tried to ignore since her teens with potions and spells and all the charms in the world could be returned , well the witch burst into tears.

 

Falling to her knees, falling into Fareeha’s arms , accepting the kiss pushed to her lips, returned in favor with her own push and nip at tender skin, Angela finally felt at home.

 

Felt loved.

 

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Together, hand in hand, the soldier and the witch walked from the room and to the end of the hall, when they turned left and opened a door at random to walk down the steps that appeared there.

 

When they reached the bottom of the stairs Angela released Fareeha’s hand, missing the warmth of it immediately, and turned to face the other woman.

 

“This...will be painful. You know it, correct?”

 

Without hesitation Fareeha nodded, and pressed a kiss to the blonde’s lips again when it seemed she needed further assurance.

 

“Angela, let’s do it. I trust it, I’ll be fine. Besides, Lena did this and she’s fine, can’t be too bad...right?”

 

Angela rolled her eyes, a nervous smile playing at her lips, “Yes but Lena also has the strange ability to control time around her.”

 

Fareeha looked at her for a moment, before shrugging and walking down the last few steps and past Angela. “Eh, I’ll be fine.”

 

Following after her, Angela fixed the pointed hat on her head and gripped a little tighter at the staff in her hands, “So be it.”

 

Before leaving the room, Angela had changed into her “witch gear”, claiming it made her stronger when Fareeha eyed her silently.

 

“Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure what the hell I'm doing exactly so bear with me if I have to consult the old spellbook.”

 

Fareeha laughed, “I trust you, Angie.”

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

And so, after an hour of mixing a potion that contained both Fareeha’s and her own blood, many, many incantations that made Angela’s tongue twist and Fareeha’s eyes cross, and one circle drawn into the floor with a few sticks of candle wax Angela finally felt she was ready to utter the final words.

 

“Are you sure you want to do this, Fareeha?”

 

Kneeling before her again, and holding her left hand in both her own, Fareeha looked up at her with sincere brown eyes, “Yes, my love.”

 

The witch smiled at the words and quickly lowered her head to press and kiss to the fingers laced with her own. “Okay.” Looking back to the book in her right hand, Angela began to utter the final words of their bond, eventually placing the book down in favor of grabbing the potion made of their blood she had brewed earlier.

 

Pouring the thick red liquid over their hands, Angela watched in fascination as the liquid did not run off their skin, but was instead absorbed by it. There was a bright light, and then-

 

-nothing.

 

Angela stood in shock, chest heaving after nearly shouting the words of the spell, while Fareeha furrowed her brows.

 

The soldier looked up at her cutely in confusion, “Did it work?”

 

“I-I don’t know.” The witch looked down at the woman in front of her, surely she didn’t do anything wrong, she had double- triple checked everything. “Well, there’s only one way to find out…”

 

Cupping Fareeha’s jaw, Angela looked into brown eyes as she uttered the words she had heard Emily and Amélie speak on many occasions, slightly different as every witch’s was, and then blinked. When she opened her eyes again, she found that she was looking into the same brown eyes as before but-

 

-she felt short, coarse fur under her fingertips.

 

Blinking again, not quite believing her eyes, Angela pulled back and found herself face to face with a smiling jackal.  

Chapter Text

Angela Zeigler was running out of time. Already, she could hear the fire crackling and the villagers' angry shouts. 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Earlier that day. 

 

Even if the day was to be spent mourning a man who deserved not to walk the earth, the atmosphere still seemed sullen and the sky extra grey. Angela Zeigler stood in front of a full body length mirror, struggling to clasp the back of her necklace. 

 

“Here, let me.” Two warm hands covered her own and just as soon as they appeared, they were gone. Leaving behind the cool metal of the necklace. 

 

The blonde scowled, “I can’t believe he brought me this, I mean, you would think he would know that I’m sensitive to gold.” 

 

Warm lips pressed into the back of her neck as two strong hands framed her hips. “Maybe he just thought gold was fitting of an angel?” 

 

Relaxing into her lover’s hold, Angela sighed a slight blush painting her cheeks. “You won’t leave my side, correct? No matter what the townsfolk say to you?” 

 

A scoff, “Of course not.” 

 

“Good.” 

 

Spinning around Angela draped two pale arms over Fareeha’s shoulders, rubbing at the soft skin at the nape of her neck. “That suit looks good on you.” 

 

Indeed, a suit looked quite well on Fareeha’s sturdy physique. Still, no matter how Angela looked at her she couldn’t see her as a man, instead looking at the places she knew feminine hips hid under padding, or small delicate breasts under a tight wrap- 

 

“Are you feeling alright? Your face is quite red?” Fareeha asked, either knowing perfectly well the effect she was having on the witch and ignoring it, or she was completely oblivious.

 

“Y-yes,” backing away slightly from the woman in front of her, Angela busied herself by making sure everything she wanted to take with her was placed carefully in her satchel. “We should get going if we wish to arrive at a decent time.” 

 

Fareeha followed her out the door, the house still quiet in the early hours of the morning. When they got to the kitchen area, a candle blazed to life and Ana Amari’s figure could just be seen sitting in a chair in the living room. 

 

“So? Has it been done?”  

 

Angela looked over at the older woman, turning back to Fareeha with a sweet smile on her face. “Take my things to the horse?” 

 

Turning her back, the witch watched as the soldier dutifully walked out the door of The Hut and to where Hammond was tied. 

 

“And, yes, it has. Fareeha has officially undergone the oath and become my familiar.” 

 

Sighing, the older woman sat back more fully into her rocker. “I feel as though I no longer possess a position in which I am allowed to be mad at you.” 

 

Angela felt a certain tension in her shoulders ease but one in her chest tighten. “And why is that?” 

 

“Fareeha may be my daughter by blood but I’m not so certain she wouldn’t sever that connection if she could.” Angela moved so she was sitting across from Ana, still a distance away. “I’m not certain you’ve noticed, but my relationship with my daughter is quite...strained. And I’m afraid I’ve done nothing but push it to be so. Most of my young adult life I spent hating the man I married, hating the man who gave me a child, hating the child he gave me. I spent so much- too much -time thinking of Fareeha as another piece of him; that I never looked at her as her own person. She was- is -as much her father as she is her mother, and I...I believe I missed that. I spent so much time training you, training Emily, looking after Mei and Satya and Amélie and Lucio that...that I never noticed her. I paid no mind to my own daughter, my own flesh and blood, growing up, that I blinked and she lost her patience with me. I missed all the time she spent wrestling with Brigette in the fields, or the times she caused trouble with Jessie. I missed the nights when she went to Ingrid crying and confused about the ways her body was changing. I missed Reinhardt and Torbjörn teaching her to fight and sharpen swords. I missed her falling in love with you…” 

 

Angela didn’t know what to say, a part of her always knew, understood that Fareeha and Ana though mother and daughter hardly spoke. But to see a mentor, someone she looked up to, cry and seemingly fall apart-well, Angela was speechless. 

 

Looking up at her, Ana continued, “I missed out on so much of my daughter’s life, Angela. She waited for me, never once begged for my attention, just waited. But even the most patient people in the world grow tired, and eventually Fareeha couldn’t keep her life on hold for me. I-I may not like you making my daughter your familiar, but I feel as though I can’t stop either of you, nor do I deserve to. All I ask is that you-...just notice her? Pay attention to her, make her your first thought when you wake and the last when you fall asleep. Make her your top priority, treat her like you don’t deserve her; because trust me you don’t, but neither did I. Angela I’ve always told you I see myself in you, but please, be wiser than I. Your magic, it isn’t the most valuable thing, all I ask is you don’t use Fareeha as a means to gain power because that girl would try to freeze the world in place if you asked her.” 

 

Not quite knowing what to say after such a speech, Angela simply nodded once sharply and then proceeded to join Fareeha.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The ride through the forest’s rough undergrowth to reach the path found Angela clinging tightly to Fareeha’s frame, praying to a plethora of gods she didn’t believe in that the damned horse wouldn’t throw her off. Once they reached the beaten dirt of the path, Angela relaxed- slightly -and leaned her head onto Fareeha’s shoulder.       

 

“Ready for this?” the other woman asked. 

 

Angela sighed, “No, not really, but...I asked the choir to sing and I suppose it’s time to listen.” 

 

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The funeral was full of guests who obviously didn’t wish to be there

 

-Angela didn’t blame them

 

However, the Shimada family cut quite an intimidating figure with their wealth and ruthless business tactics. 

 

Just beyond the town’s sturdy shoppes and homes, past the point where the old stone paths turned to dirt roads, even further than the last farmhouse and accompanying field, the townsfolk gathered as a mass of black cotton and silk. At the edge of the graveyard, Fareeha pulled Hammond to a stop and swung a long leg off his back before turning to Angela with a smile and extended hand. 

 

From afar Angela could see the old twisted willow whose weary branches covered the two stones she knew were stationed there. She let the picture overwhelm her, the way the old tree seemed to loom longingly from the earth, swaying slightly in the rain and shrouded in mist. She let her eyes stray to the shadowed headmarkers of her parents’ graves. 

 

The tears flowed easily now. 

 

“Ready?” Fareeha asked her. Angela could only nod, taking the arm offered to her. Fareeha even managed to look sullen on their walk to join the others. Standing at her placed, Angela managed a few particularly painful sobs that had a few women turning into the arms of their husbands. 

 

No one wanted to see a widowed wife. 

 

The preacher said a few words, although the grimace on his face was easy to see when he talked of Genji as a man of God. Surely he thought of those two bastard children born of whorish man and young, willing maidens. And then a few men were lowering his casket into the ground, Fareeha even stepping forward to do so, claiming “he was a good man, he made he happy,” to which Genji’s father clapped her on the back for; they shared a nod of solidarity. 

 

Angela wondered how Ana had such a hard time realizing how great her daughter was. 

 

Once all the dirt had been replaced onto the expensive casket people started to disperse. Women clinging to the arms of their husbands, feeling the air that seemed fit for funerals and the like. Maidens pawed at the hands of their friends, walking through the wet grass holding up the hems of their dresses. Lanky boys followed after them, offering to hold their umbrellas. Angela stayed, with Fareeha by her side, until it was her and the Shimadas. 

 

The two eldest Shimadas, Genji’s grandparents, took the youngest and only remaining heir by the arm and led him away. (To his credit he didn’t look bothered in the slightest that he had just witnessed his brother’s funeral) 

 

“Fara, a word?” 

 

Fareeha’s head turned when her “name” was called, nodding and shooting a look at Angela before following Genji’s father. 

 

The witch stood, hands clasped in front of her, staring blankly at the upturned dirt in front of her. She didn’t turn when she felt Genji’s mother walk towards her, and didn’t move when she felt the woman place a hand on her shoulder and lean towards her ear. 

 

The witch felt the air around them was different, charged

 

When she spoke it sent shivers down Angela’s spine, more than the rain that made her hair cling uncomfortably to her cheeks and forehead. 

 

“I’d watch your back, witch .” 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Hammond’s hooves thundered on the road beneath his feet. The rain stung as it hit her cheeks but Angela didn’t turn away from it, just squeezed Fareeha’s sides and yelled “Faster!” over the wind. 

 

The pair (and horse, a trio) tore through the treeline, the rain still soaking their faces and clothes even through the canopy of leaves. 

 

All throughout her life, Angela had always thought that the woods- The Wilds -looked more like a jungle than a forest. But today, they looked every bit the dark forest they were known for. It seemed the sun had decided to take a day off as the sky was unusually dark, casting strange shadows out of the trees. Before Angela could really think about it they were at The Hut, Fareeha pulling on Hammond’s reins and the horse standing in the air to come to a stop. Angela was throwing herself off his high back, sprinting through the old door and continuing her mad dash to her room.    

 

It seemed almost like the old house hated her, the hallways seeming longer than she remembered. Throwing the door to her room open, Angela all but ripped the black dress from her body, tightening up the corset and drawing up the long leather stocking she wore underneath. Grabbing her hat from the edge of the mirror the witch placed the item on her head before scanning the room desperately for her staff. 

 

“Angela.” 

 

The witch turned at the voice, frazzled and breathing heavy to find Fareeha in the doorway. The soldier extended her hand, handing the staff to her. 

 

Exhaling, “Thank you.” Angela turned back to her room, slower this time, more precise in her wandering eyes. “...they’re going to burn me at the stake.” 

 

“I know.” 

 

“We’re- I’m -going to have to run, the hounds can’t find this place.” 

 

“I know.” 

 

“They’re going to kill me... hunt me like an animal .” 

 

“I know.” 

 

Frustrated, the witch turned to her familiar, her soldier, her lover. “Are you not afraid? Go! Leave me, run. Save yourself…” 

 

“No.” 

 

Excuse me? ” 

 

Fareeha stepped forward, “I made an oath to you, Angela. I’m in this- with you -until the end. Not because I have to, well kinda, but because I want to, Angela. You’re not alone.” 

 

A moment of silence before the witch threw herself at the other woman, pressing their lips together in a bruising kiss. 

 

“I love you,” Angela spoke through tears, real ones this time, and closed her eyes. Drawing herself impossibly closer to her lover. 

 

“Vana ahbak aizal.” ( I love you too-Arabic ….hopefully)    

 

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Exiting The Hut, Fareeha untied Hammond, slapping his flank and telling him to “ run ” which he eventually did after some hesitancy. 

 

Angela admired him for it. 

 

Together, they ran through the bramble and undergrowth, away from the village. Angela allowed herself to be pulled along by Fareeha trusting the other woman to guide her away, to steal her away in the night. In fact, if Angela closed her eyes and pretended hard enough she might have been able to convince herself that Fareeha was taking her away in the night. Stealing her like a poor boy steals his loving maiden from her family. But then the shouts started and the howls of the hounds could be heard, echoing off the thick (thicc) bark of the trees around them.

 

Suddenly, figures broke through the darkness around them, close enough Angela could reach out and trip them. Risking a glance to see which of her neighbors had turned to her hunters, Angela was shocked to find Emily running beside her. Looking to her right, Amélie.

 

The witch felt new, fresh tears prick at her eyes. 

 

Torches lit up her peripheral and out of the corner of her eye Angela could just make out Satya stopping and turning, her hands moving in that elegant way they always did when she conjured something. Orbs of fire sprung from her fingertips, three ravens flying around her, beams of fire shooting from their beaks. Satya’s specialty had always been summoning things, conjuring items at her will. 

 

When the barking got closer Angela felt a nip at her heels and heard a *snap* as sharp teeth missed their target. From somewhere to her right Mei turned and made a slip-n-slide (not that anyone would know what that was yet…) where two dogs slipped and collided into each other. On her left she could see Lena stop and pull Emily into her arms, giving her a hard kiss before turning to a dog and facing the three hounds that came her way. Angela looked away when Emily ran to catch up with tears in her eyes. Looking over her shoulder at Mei one last time Angela was just able to catch a glimpse of Mei encapsulating herself in ice before a wall was blocking her view. Mei’s last words being a shouted, “GO!”  

 

Angela pushed onward, her lungs stinging and heart pounding from both the effort and feeling in it all. There was an ear curdling howl of pain, and for a moment Angela feared what beasts may be out within The Wilds before recognizing that it was the howl of a dog. Emily had an accompanying wail of her own, Angela felt tears prick the corners of her eyes.

 

Clouds of thick black smoke gathered around their feet and Angela only spared it a glance before Moria was joining them, something Angela never thought she’d ever see. The redhead stopped and Emily rushed to her side. Together, the two stood back-to-back, wisps of smoky energy shooting from their hands, clouding around the first few figures that broke through the trees nearest them. 

 

It dawned on Angela then, that she had never really seen Emily’s magic, and the thought of the situation surrounding her, that now was the time, made her heart clench. She found it oddly fitting as much as it was strange that Emily and her Aunt shared magic in such a similar form. 

 

Shouts, human , shouts were starting to surround them, the trees alight with their torches. A flash of purple and Sombra was winking in front of her before Amélie stopped and turned, seemingly able to see the figures before they got anywhere near them dropping them where they stood. Purple light lit up the trees around them, Angela had to squint to make out Sombra and Amélie dancing in the middle of it. The blonde had always found it beautiful the way Amélie cast her spells, the way she danced through a ballet number only she could hear, her wrists flicking whenever a wordless spell tumbled from her lips. 

 

They were starting to reach parts of The Wilds Angela had never seen before, though Fareeha seemed to know where she was running altering their course accordingly, never once breaking a sweat. 

 

Loud thundering hooves pounded in Angela’s ears before Hammond jumped over a root, landing next to them still running with Ana and Ingrid on his back. It was shocking to see the two witches together, both dressed fully in their robes. It was terrifyingly beautiful, poet and strange all at once. Together, the two slid off Hammond, standing their grounds with their hands outstretched, positions of all colors strapped at their waists.  

 

The light and sounds coming from behind them made Angela run a little faster, not quite sure if it was the townsfolk or her mentors that scared her more. 

 

Then more shouts were calling from the trees around them, torch fire blinding in the darkness of the night. Angela found it unbelievable. Just how many people had been gathered for this hunt? 

 

Before she could finish her train of thought Angela was being lifted into the air, reins pressed into her hands. 

 

“W-what?” The blonde looked down, Fareeha was tying her bags to the back of Hammond’s saddle. “Fareeha?...” The soldier looked up into her eyes and Angela didn’t like the glint she saw there. “Fareeha...no, no please, Fareeha!” And then Fareeha was yanking her down by her collar to give her a quick kiss while pulling her sword from its sheath. 

 

Angela could only turn and watch was Fareeha stood and faced the people, not a power of her own. Not a spell, nor ability to help give her an edge, even Lena could somehow warp time. Just as the witch opened her mouth to shout, call out, anything , a branch hit her in the face and that was all.

 

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 When Angela woke, it was to the sound of a crackling fire and warm blankets around her. There was humming as two big hands gently brushed the fringe out of her face.

 

Slowly, Angela opened her eyes, almost afraid of what she’d find. 

 

“Ah, Angela!” A loud, booming voice woke the rest of her foggy brain up. 

 

Reinhardt. 

 

“R-Reinhardt?” 

 

A laugh that could warm even the coldest of hearts greeted her, “You’re awake!” 

 

She couldn’t help but laugh herself, “Yes, I suppose I am.” 

 

Growing up, Reinhardt had been that metaphorical German uncle she had never met until arriving at the hut. She only wished she could have introduced him to her father when she was a teen before her father’s passing. Just as Angela was about to say something to the big man, she stopped, sitting up. 

 

“Where, has anyone else arrived?” 

 

Angela looked into Reinhardt’s old kind eyes, surrounded by laugh lines that were weathered by the years. It was the first time she had ever seen the man look sad. 

 

“It...there was just you, slumped forward on a horse. I’m surprised he didn’t buck ya.” 

 

Getting up from the bed, Angela took in her surroundings. She was in a proper hut, this time. With thatch walls and ceiling, matted dirt as the floor. The place appeared to be rounded, with a fire pit diagonal to the door, with a table on the right side and bed on the left. Angela turned back to the giant of a man, question on her tongue when she gasped. Stepping forward Angela gently cupped his face with her hands that seemed comically small in comparison. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it before, the scar that marred his left eye, which was now milky in comparison to his right.

 

“Reinhardt…” The words came as a whisper, and the big man closed his eyes, mouth forming a hard line under the white hair of his beard. 

 

“The wars...it...they have taken their toll on me…” Reinhardt looked at her then, “I am no longer the spry young man you knew me as, Angela.” 

 

Angela felt a pull in her chest, “W-why are you out here? Why not come back?” 

 

Reinhardt laughed, not a boisterous as usual, “There is no place left in the new world for an old war dog like me.” 

 

“What do you mean? Of course there is! We’ve missed you! I missed you! Ana missed you!” 

 

Smiling, the big man lowered his head, “Do you know how you got here?” 

 

Angela furrowed her brows, not sure where their conversation was headed. “No…?”

 

“That horse, his name is Hammond, no? He took you here. How?” 

 

The way he spoke was not unkindly, however, it left a certain air of knowing that made Angela feel clued out. “But that horse is...is Fareeha’s…”   

 

Nodding, Angela looked back to Reinhardt, “It seems everyone ends up here at some point. Fareeha and I, she never saw me. But I fought alongside her, and carried her here when she took a nasty blow to the head. As far as she knows, she woke up in the swamp with ten stitches in her head and more bandages on her body than a dead king in Egypt.” 

 

“I- I don’t…” 

 

“We-...I am but a relic of war. The shell of a bomb long since dropped. Fareeha, that girl is a rocket, do you understand? She got back up, has to keep going when she falls, but I...I am heavy and old. There is nothing left for me anywhere Angela. I have loved and I have lost. Given and taken. What more could anyone want from me? I direct travelers who get lost, help men who wander here away from it all to die. I am all that stands between this world and the next and I can’t say that I will be standing here for long.” 

 

Angela let the silence wash over them, “So you’ve just given up? You’re content to sit here and wait out your days even while people still live who care for you?” 

 

“It’s- you don’t understand, perhaps you are still too young yet to-” 

 

“No, you’re right. I don’t understand. And I never will, because I won’t give up. You want to stay here? Fine. You do that, but I’m going to go save the woman I love, even if it kills me, because that, that is a fitting death. It means nothing to sit and wait, I thought you of all people would understand that.”     

 

With that Angela attempted to blink away the tears in her eyes, quickly locating her staff, hat, and boots, taking them before storming out the door. She waited a moment, feeling lost and hopeless and every bit a child, tears streaming down her face while she listened for Reinhardt’s call, for her to wait and that he would join. 

 

But it never came, and so Angela went. 

 

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It was mid-morning, the fog of the swamp thick but the mud thicker still. Gnats buzzed in her ears and Angela grumbled, swatting at them lazily with her hat while struggling to free a pointed boot from the mud. 

 

“Stupid horse...had to...take me to...stupid swamp...stupid, stupid, stupid-” 

 

(I was going to write a little skit with a talking alligator but thought that would make this seem too much of an acid dream or like, something from Alice in Wonderland. Comment and let me know if you'd like me to put it in anyway. Basically, it’s just Angela meeting a few talking animals in the wilds while trying to make her way back, each kinda like a snake in the garden of Eden type of thing. Thanks!)      

 

There was a neigh and Angela looked up to see Hammond standing at a bank in front of her. “Hammond?” 

 

The horse neighed back, almost exasperatedly, and Angela had never been so happy to see a four-legged carriage of terror in her whole life. 

 

Quickening her pace, Angela stood next to the horse in the black sand and smooth pebbles, mud caked up to her knees. 

 

“Okay, I’m just going to er-uh ride you now...if that’s...okay…” 

 

Hammond didn’t reply, but did turn himself broadside so Angela took that as an “okay, go ahead.” Trying to recall all the times she had watched Fareeha get on her horse, Angela placed her left leg in the stirrup, ignoring how awkward it felt, before swinging her opposite leg over and grabbing the reins to steady herself. 

 

“I...I did it...Hammond! I did it! I got on a horse without any help!” 

 

Neighing cheerfully Hammond jumped a little into the air, Angela felt herself grip tighten her grip on the reins and her heart drop to her stomach. 

 

“P-please don’t do that ever again.” 

 

Making a “pfft” noise with his lips Angela almost imagined the horse called her a wimp and then laughing about it. Before thinking that that was nonsense. Then she remembered just exactly whose horse she was riding on and thought that a possibility after all. 

 

“Okay Hammond, take me to Fareeha.”  

 

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By the time Hammond managed to take her back to The Hut it was midday day, nearing noon, and Angela knew she only had a couple of hours before they would start to do...whatever it was they were going to do to Fareeha at sunset. 

 

Tying Hammond up, Angela reached for a nearby tree and gave him a few apples before opening the door, afraid of what would be waiting for her on the other side. 

 

What she got was the battered faces of everyone she ever knew staring tiredly back at her. 

 

“Angela!” Emily ran up to her, more limped actually, and pulled her into a tight hug. “You’re back! Where’s Fareeha…?”

 

Stepping out of the redhead’s arm’s Angela looked at Ana sadly, “I-I don’t know. She threw me on the horse and we got separated I-don’t remember anything after that. I think I got knocked out.”  

 

Visibly, Ana seemed unshaken, and Angela guessed that to some degree this was the news the older woman had been waiting to hear her whole life, however, a certain mist seemed to creep into her eyes that left a pit deep in Angela’s stomach.  

 

Surveying the room, Angela looked at the varying states she found her friends in. 

 

Mei seemed fine, other than a few scrapes presumably from the brush. Sombra also looked relatively unfazed minus the small cut on her eyebrow. Emily seemed to favor one leg and had the opposite arm bandaged up as well as some bruising around her neck, but seemed too serious. Ingrid and Ana both looked exactly as Angela remembered them, and the blonde supposed there was something to be said about experience over youth. Amélie also seemed fine other than a bandage around her hand and bruising covering a closed goldeneye. Moira had a wad a gauze tapped over her left eye, while her right arm seemed to have been burned, not horribly, however. 

 

Satya seemed not to have the same look at her left arm was gruesomely burned, all the way up to her shoulder and continuing a little onto her chest and neck. Even from where she stood Angela could see the way it glistened.  

 

“Where’s Lena?” 

 

Emily sniffed neck to her before gesturing weakly to a corner of the room. Lena laid almost completely naked on her side, in human form. Her entire body from head to toe was covered in bites and scratches, a chunk missing out of the top of her left ear. The worst part, however, was the hole in her chest. It looked like a gunshot, and when Angela knelt down by her side she noted it when all the way through. 

 

“Some bastard shot her close range, probably not even a foot away. She’s lucky Ana got to her, it didn’t hit her heart but...damn near everything else.”

 

Angela stood but stayed looking over the girl, her heart clenching whenever a breath was a little late. Turning to face everyone she felt a new determination set in her bones, “I’ll be back.” 

 

Emily caught her wrist, stopping her with one foot out the door. She seemed to be the only one walking-er, well limping. “Wait, we’ll come with you, we’ll-I’ll help you!”   

 

Looking into grey eyes framed by freckles Angela found herself smiling. Emily had become something of a little sister to her over the years, a bond she found she was quite fond of. “It’s okay, I’ve- you’ve already done so much, I can’t possibly let you do anything more.” 

 

“But-” 

 

“Stay with Lena, be there for her when she wakes up.” 

 

This seemed to do the trick as the redhead loosened her grip and looked to the floor. Angela pulled her into a hug. 

 

A nose tickled at her neck and she felt Emily’s breath as she whispered, “Please, be safe.” 

 

Pulling away Angela took a step out the door, not daring to make a promise she didn’t think she could keep. 

 

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Angela Zeigler was running out of time. Already, she could hear the fire crackling and the villigers’ angry shouts. 

 

Hammond’s hooves cracked like lighting on the cobblestone paths of the village she once thought of as home. Looking towards the sky, Angela could see smoke billowing up in a mighty column, almost like a beacon of doom. 

 

“Faster!” 

 

When she rode into the town square no one noticed her, everyone far to focused on watching the pyre’s light up in front of them. Three huge masses of wood were built up almost four feet tall, all surrounding a wooden cross which Fareeha was unfortunately tied to. 

 

Her head was rolled onto her shoulder, both of her wrists bound on the beams at her sides. Limply she hung there, shirt untucked from her pants, hat nowhere to be seen and her hair free. 

 

Angela thought she looked beautiful. 

 

Slipping off Hammond, the witch quietly guided him over into the shadows, telling him to be quiet before sneaking her way towards her love. 

 

“Ladies and gentlemen! Today you are here to witness the burning of one wench not from our lands! She is to be burned for committing the crime of hiding a witch, helping a witch, and being the consort of a witch!” 

 

Three pyres, three “crimes”...it made her sick to think about how many she'd have. 

 

Pausing at the “consort” the witch thought for a moment, before remembering every familiar had some sort of marking, almost like a tattoo to show which witch they belonged to. Briefly, Angela wondered what Fareeha’s mark looked like. 

 

Shaking her head to clear it, the witch continued to sneak forward, hand flexing around her staff as she got closer. 

 

Without warning, the pyres were lit further with alcohol and Fareeha’s head shot up, looking towards the sky Angela was surprised at the serenity she saw on her face. Underneath the bruises and dirt, a look of peace graced her features. 

 

“Stop!” 

 

All heads turned to Angela as she stood in the center of the crowd, some stepping away, other drawing weapons. “Release her! She’s not a witch!” 

 

Someone shouted, “But she was ah kissin’ one!”

 

Another, “She helped one!” 

 

A third, “She was a dressed as a man!”  

 

The shouting grew until Angela raised her staff, the fires died and she flew. 

 

Huh, never flown before, I guess that’s the extra power from Fareeha. Thanks, Liebling (roughly ‘love’) 

 

When she landed it was a simple spell, and Fareeha dropped to the ground, limp and unmoving. Figuring a jackal was easier to carry than a soldier, Angela quickly muttered the charm to turn Fareeha into her familiar form before whistling for Hammond .

 

There were many gasps of surprise when the large tawny horse came charging through the crowd, however, many men were starting to move towards the witch with their weapons raised. 

 

“Stand back witch!’ 

 

“Put yer weapon away!” 

 

Quickly, Angela lifted Fareeha-with great effort-onto the horse before mounting herself. As much as she wanted to fight back, she knew Fareeha wouldn’t want her to. So, digging her heels into Hammond’s side, the witch rode off into the night. 

 

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As it turned out, Fareeha had bruised ribs, as well as a broken arm and foot. And given the girl’s lack of consciousness, maybe a pretty bad concussion too.

 

Angela sat in a rocker by her bedside, changing the herbal wraps around her torso when needed, as well as making sure her right foot stayed elevated. The mug in her hands was warm, and the bags under her eyes dark. 

 

“Angela?” 

 

Sluggishly, the blonde looked up to find Ana in the doorway, a strange looked on the older woman’s face. Without answering, Angela nodded her acknowledgment. Ana smiled then, but only a little. “You won’t believe who showed up at the door this morning.” 

 

Not even a lack of sleep, it seemed, could deter Angela’s curiosity. “Who?” 

 

“Reinhardt.” Ana was talking with her hands, something the blonde had never seen her do before. “Something about having a change of heart after all these years, can you believe it?” 

 

A small smile made its way to Angela’s lips, “You don’t say?” 

 

“Can you believe it? That old crusader is still alive!”

 

The witch stilled, she had heard the term before, of course, but somehow this time was different. “Crusader...as in, Jerusalem Crusader?”

 

Ana must have caught on to her train of thought, “Why yes, what else? How young do you think we are, child?” 

 

It was something Angela had thought about before, Ana seemed to know the answer to anything, sometimes giving information a little too close to a first hand account. Ingrid was always very quiet, observing, but read people well, almost like she had spent lifetimes learning too. And then there was Mei, who looked younger than maybe even herself, but she knew for a fact the other woman was somehow one of the oldest beings there was. 

 

“I-but he’d have to be nearly two-hundred years old!” 

 

The smile Ana gave her then was even more unsettling, “Mm, tell me, child, do I look as old as you think I am?” 

 

Angela stared at the woman, not quite sure she was seeing her correctly, as Ana now seemed to have smoother skin, and long black hair instead of grey. She looked every bit the woman Angela first met when she stumbled upon The Hut.

 

“I-...what?” 

 

Chuckling, Ana turned and walked out the door, now back to silvery grey hair and weathered skin, “What? Did you think you would ever be done learning?” 

 

It was true, when Angela had deemed herself old and well learned enough she had simply said so and walked out the door. In fact, Ana had laughed just now as she did then. 

 

Grumbling to herself Angela sunk further into her chair, taking a sip of her tea. “Witches and their spells…” 

 

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Two days later Fareeha woke up, proclaiming herself dead because Angela looked like an angel. Angela had smiled and laughed, kissing the girl on the forehead because “of course you’d wake up with a pick-up line on the tip of your tongue”.       

  

They had had a celebration of sorts, when Lena woke up in the few days following, with Reinhardt’s presence the mood seemed even lighter. However, there were still tears even in these newly mended seams. Moira now wore an eye covering, much like Ana’s own, and Satya always wore something covering the entirety of her left arm. One of Amélie’s fingers now seemed to bend a bit more awkward than the others, and Emily seemed to have a slight limp that wouldn’t go away. Fareeha’s left arm was in a sling, much like her right foot was in a bandage but she would heal fine, other than a bit of an uneven landscape when it came to her ribs. Lena was by far the worst off, bone fragments were removed from her chest, leaving her with a garish looking dent in the center of her chest at back. And there was always a slight rattle to her breathing, the likes of which Angela knew disturbed Emily. Angela herself didn’t have many markings in the ways of combat, however, there was a tiny scar running from the top of her left temple to the start of her cheekbone. 

 

And, a few years later after Emily and Lena’s marriage, which a boisterous Reinhardt was the officiant for, Angela and Fareeha moved out of The Hut and into a cottage just a magical, built by the latter of the two. Angela, however, had learned the spells from Ana. Together, the two made a place for the orphaned children of Gibraltar to stay, teaching them until they were either old enough to go out onto their own or somehow met people in the town who were looking for children. 

 

One day, out of the blue, when there currently aren't any children under their care, Fareeha got down on one knee and asked Angela to marry her.  

 

The witch had been hunched over a new spellbook, one borrowed from the large expanse that was Ana’s library, when the soldier had tapped her shoulder and stopped down on one knee. 

 

“Angela, care to let me make another oath and vow to you?” 

 

The witch had, of course, said yes.

 

And later that day, when they had been tangled between sheets, Angela learned that Fareeha's mark was a halo and wings marring the skin over her heart.