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the world tried to burn all the mercy out of me // but you know i wouldn't let it

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Wanda knew, really, if she thinks about it, that something with Agnes was off. She didn’t write her like that, not really, not all the way. The flirting, the way that Agnes looked at her, the ways that they seemed to be too close but not close enough, that wasn’t her scripting, not even subconsciously. The ways that Agnes strayed off script, the ways that she was more than the hilariously helpful neighbour. It was all a little too on the nose, all a little too some kind of cliché but dressed up wrong, some kind of a little to the left. And that makes sense, now, when Wanda has a chance to think about it, when she takes a second between working herself until she’s so exhausted she practically passes out (it’s the only way she sleeps, these days). It’s been months, and she still, occasionally, remembers something that Agnes (Agatha, she thinks, some kind of exasperated) said, something she did, and she almost chides herself for not noticing.

 

She studies, for a time, locked away, unengaging with life and herself and anything that isn’t this magic that she doesn’t understand. She steps away, away from living her own life, from trying to work out what that is. She doesn’t have anyone to miss her or anyone to notice, doesn’t have anything that could be recognisably called a life to go back to, anyway, so it doesn’t matter, really, that no one hears from her for months, and there’s no one to check up on her and that’s fine so long as she doesn’t think about it. 

 

And she hits a wall. She hits a wall just like Agatha predicted, just like she herself knew she would. She’d hoped for clues, some kind of infinite clarity that would be revealed to her in the snow and the silence, and all she gets is something that resembles more power but maybe less control. She’s so led by her emotions, her magic governed by them in a way she finds untenable, in a way that she knows can’t continue. She needs steady, consistent power, she needs to know her limits, needs to be able to predict what will happen when she directs her full power into something. Needs to be able to tell when something will be too much for her, (because there’s been some close calls, since she came out here, since she started learning something that could be called magical theory). She needs to know what the fastest and safest ways to do something are, even if she’s much less limited in regards to the creation of energy as those who have studied this book before her have been. 

 

She studies this stupid book and she realises that it’s just the start. And there’s Agatha. Agatha who has three centuries' worth of magical knowledge locked up in that brain of hers, and she can’t trust her at all but she needs it, needs the knowledge that’s rotting away in Westview under the cover of Agnes. She needs her, just like Agatha fucking predicted.

 

She doesn’t knock on the door, doesn’t want to be faced with Agnes, wants to get this over with, so she comes through the back, knows it won’t be locked and that it wouldn’t be a problem if it was. Agnes is watching TV, not paying attention, rattling something with ice in around a glass absentmindedly. She taps her on the temple. Nothing happens.

 

“I told you before, sweet cheeks, you don’t get access.” 

 

“But I took your powers?” 

 

Agatha stands, drains her glass, shrugs. It’s all studied nonchalance, like she hasn’t been preparing for this moment for months, when they both know that if she’s had control of her own thoughts this whole time she has been. “Protecting my mind isn’t a spell, or even a group of spells, it’s just due diligence,” she raises an eyebrow. “We’ve really gotta get you some basic training, hun, you’ve really got no idea.” 

 

“What else have you still been able to do?” And it’s wary but she’s still there, Agatha was still waiting for her, so surely she can’t have done too much while Wanda was gone.

 

“Runes still work, to an extent, and potions can be pretty handy, but don’t worry your pretty little head; I haven’t been causing mayhem, and I haven’t been able to leave.” She’s still smiling, a thing with too many teeth, like she hasn’t spent months considering the perfect takedown for when Wanda came back, before she finally accepted that without her powers, without being able to drain her, there was very little that she could do. She’d considered potions and bombs and methods that would have taken them both out, that only might have stopped her. So she’s happy to wait, now that she’s considered all the angles, happy to see what she can learn from this jumped up upstart in the meantime. She’s a lot of things but she would never have gotten this far without a sense of self-preservation.

 

“So you’ve just been sitting here, waiting for me to get back?” And Wanda sounds so disbelieving and she can understand that, can understand that Wanda views her magic as something that’s been inflicted upon her, doesn’t yearn for them the way that Agatha does, understands that part of Wanda longs for the very existence that she has forced upon her. 

 

“There’s several ways I could have escaped,” she admits, easy like a predator that knows how to wait for the perfect moment, easy like Wanda’s scant twenty-eight years on this earth hasn’t given her, easy like Wanda doesn’t know if she ever will be. “But you’ve got my magic, and without that? There’s no point.” 

 

“You might never get it back,” she warns her, but Agatha knows it’s a moot point; she doesn’t really think she has it in her to keep it from her forever, not after she’s helped her, not after whatever follows from this conversation.

 

“I know. But I wasn’t gonna go where you couldn’t find me just in case,” she she winks at her, like it’s Wanda and Agnes, like she’s her nosy neighbour, and Wanda sighs.

 

“Well come on then, I guess.”

 

“Where are we going?” she asks, because the nosy part wasn’t ever fake, and Wanda rolls her eyes.

 

“Do you need anything from here? Some purple jumpers or something?”

 

“Well I’d pack up my basement in a hot second but someone still has my magic.” 

 

Wanda waves her arms, sends scarlet cascading, and there’s soon a tidy pile of luggage next to her, that purple jumper laid across the top of it, and Agatha laughs. “Maybe the Darkhold has been helping, unless of course you absolutely destroyed my basement in the process.”

 

Wanda clicks her fingers in response, and the two of them and the luggage are left looking at a sad little cabin.

 

“Oh this is sad, angel,” Agatha says, tramping up the muddy path in distaste, and Wanda has the luggage float after her. “Please tell me there’s a second bedroom I just haven’t noticed,” she continues when Wanda crosses the threshold, and she concentrates and fixes that too, Agatha’s luggage floating into the new addition.

 

“Okay, show off,” she mutters, and Wanda actually almost laughs. “There better be running water or I’m staging a coup.” 

 

She leaves her to it, puts some logs on the fire, gets the tea going, considers their dinner options. She wasn’t prepared for it to be this easy, thought there would be fighting and arguing and bargains that she could never keep to agreed upon. She thought Agatha would have agreed, eventually, but that she would have to have been dragged kicking and screaming, that she would have eventually agreed but that she wouldn’t be willing to try. Wanda is on edge, regardless of the dome that surrounds the property, regardless of Darcy and Monica knowing where she is, what she was planning to do. Even though the cabin is crammed head to toe with runes. The problem, Wanda supposes, is that she knows what she must do. To teach her properly, eventually she’s going to have to give Agatha her powers back, and right now she doesn’t know a way to do that safely, doesn't know how to keep herself safe. Doesn’t know how much she really cares, anymore. 

 

“What’s for dinner, hot stuff?” Agatha asks, later, when she comes out of her room to nose around at Wanda’s stuff, and Wanda wonders how much this is going to be like getting instruction from a very inappropriate aunt.

 

“We’re six hours behind, it’s basically lunchtime.” 

 

“So what’s for lunch?”

 

It goes something like that, the first twenty-four hours, and Wanda isn’t sure how well she’s adapting to having someone else in her space, especially because every time she tries to look at the Darkhold Agatha seems to know , and loiters in her doorway with the kind of naked want on her face that Wanda previously thought was generally reserved for people. She misses it, Wanda knows she does, and she almost feels bad and they’ve barely even started on whatever this journey is going to be.

 

“Okay princess, tell me what the issue is,” Agatha says, when it’s been two days and Wanda hasn’t broached the subject, and she’s sitting on the sofa, feet tucked under her like this is the most normal situation in the world, and Wanda doesn’t know what to say.

 

“I just feel like I’m missing something,” she sighs, fidgeting a little. “They’re not - my powers -”

 

“Your magic,” Agatha cuts in, and she nods, conceding the point.

 

“My magic. It’s still not,” she pauses again. “It’s not controlled. I don’t know what I’m capable of because a lot of what I can tap into seems to be controlled by emotion.”

 

Agatha almost laughs, head cocked to one side like she’s trying to figure her out. “So what you really need is a therapist.”

 

“No! I just need the basics, like what they teach when you actually learn magic, like from the ground up. When you don’t get magic thrust upon you, when you have to build up to it.”

 

“That’s a lot of lessons. I was in training for years before I was even able to master a simple illusion, and I’m a lot more powerful than plenty of others.”

 

“But were you? Before you started siphoning off others?” Wanda almost freezes, worried about how Agatha is going to react, but she just laughs, shaking her head.

 

“Siphoning is natural ability, in my case. You can’t just seperate the two, sweetheart.” 

 

“Do witches usually have those?”

 

“Everyone’s better at some things than they are at others, for example you don’t seem to be especially good at reading comprehension because I’m sure you could have gotten all of this from that little book you’re holding.”

 

“The Darkhold is written for people who have already had training, for people who have had someone tell them the basics, who have had someone talk them through a bunch of things already. It’s not for people who have been walking around calling them powers instead of magic for the last ten years.”

 

“Well the good news is that I have so many more books for you, babe.” 

 

It starts like that. Wanda does a lot more reading. Agatha answers her questions but is mostly a nuisance. She thinks that she could have left her in Westview for this level of instruction but it’s some kind of… Fun? It’s like trying to read a book while someone makes bitchy comments and complains about being bored, and somehow that starts being something that Wanda enjoys, somehow she finds herself more glad to be with her than she was ever glad to be alone. Agatha potters around, does some things with a cauldron that Wanda doesn’t understand and she says she’ll explain at some point but that potions probably aren’t going to be something that Wanda will find herself needing. Wanda finds herself learning about rituals and incantations and the ingredients needed for some spells, things that she didn’t even know that witches needed. She learns that there are things you can do at a full moon that will extend and expand your power, and when she mentions them to Agatha she laughs.

 

“Oh honey bun, that is not something you need.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because you’re already much, much more powerful than anyone reading that book before you ever was, or could ever have conceived of being. That spell’s for witches who struggle to so much as move a teaspoon across a room, who are no good at card tricks. It’s not for witches who can summon matter from nothing, who can conjure and recreate and change at will.” 

 

A lot of what Wanda learns about seems as though it’s ways to compensate for the lack of power that most witches experience, seems like she’s actually not going to need a lot of things just due to the chaos magic she’s already imbued with. She starts to understand Agatha’s frustration, starts to understand why she had been so angry at Wanda for just stumbling upon all of this power. It’s not fair, in a lot of ways, and she’s finally starting to respect that, as she watches Agatha use runes and potions and weak, useless incantations as a way to channel some of her knowledge into magic without having her resources to tap into. Agatha is trying to be a witch, still, even though Wanda had taken that from her, and she oddly respects it, finds it oddly humbling. The power that Wanda has is not a given, and she finally starts to respect this in the wake of seeing Agatha try her best with what she has left to her.

 

“Okay honey bunches I think you’re at the point where you’re going to need to get some form of practical application going,” Agatha says, and it’s been at least a month, she doesn’t know, the days have all rolled together, days of trying to parse out meaning from the archaic prose that is apparently seen as a necessity, days of ignoring Agatha muttering over a cauldron. Days of ignoring Agatha winking across the room when they make eye contact, weeks of pretending like she still finds her more annoying than anything else, weeks of them becoming something like friends.

 

“I use my magic literally every day,” is what Wanda says, because she doesn’t want Agatha to ask, doesn’t want this to be about her getting her magic back.

 

“Yes and you haven’t made anything explode yet and we’re all very proud of you, but you haven’t been under any pressure recently. We need to simulate some form of panic.”

 

“But how are we gonna do that? I’ve been doing a lot better.”

 

“Yes, because you’ve been too busy to think about anything. You’re still not sleeping, are you, sugar?”

 

“I don’t see how that’s -” Wanda starts, but Agatha just holds up her hand.

 

“You need to lower your walls, need to actually feel it, or you’re going to end up doing something insane again. Putting off the inevitable doesn’t make it go away.”

 

“Feeling it is counterproductive because when I feel it is when I cause national incidents.”

 

“And there’s no one around here on which to cause an incident, apart from me, and we’ve already discovered mind control doesn’t really work so I should be fine.”

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, at all.” Wanda shakes her head and Agatha sighs, leaning forward on the sofa like she really needs her to listen to her, and Wanda almost leans back because there’s something about Agatha in her personal space that seems dangerous, these days.

 

“There’s no point knowing you’re more powerful in a vacuum, hun.”

 

“How are we going to create another environment? This area in itself is a vacuum, cut off from the outside world.”

 

“Maybe it’s time to go outside, dearest.”

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she says again, firmly.

 

“I think you should trust me more,” she returns, some kind of laugh hovering around her lips.

 

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, Agatha,” she says, and it’s all the kind of tortured that Agatha’s used to seeing, all quiet pain and fidgeting hands, and it makes Agatha both want to hug her and slap her a little. She knows regret, knows having to live with her actions, and she has to remind herself sometimes that she’s had 300 years to get over it, to let time heal, while Wanda’s only had months.

 

“Sometimes you just have to learn to live with things, honeybear.” 

 

“But if I can limit the damage I do now, why wouldn’t I?” 

 

“So practice on me. I hurt you already, so it’s even, right? I’m morally grey, so I’m fair game.”

 

“Won’t you just siphon my magic?” 

 

“No, we’ll be even stevens,” she laughs. “See whether knowledge or power wins.” 

 

“Is this what you’ve been doing with your cauldron for weeks?” she asks, some kind of wry, and Agatha laughs too.

 

“I was already prepared before you came and rescued me, princess.” 

 

Agatha is outside, when Wanda goes looking for her, two cups of tea in hand, and she raises an eyebrow. There’s something like a circle drawn in the dirt, like this is a training montage in a movie or something, and Agatha is sat cross-legged in the middle, her back to her.

 

“Have you seen The Karate Kid?” Wanda asks, and she doesn’t turn around but she knows that Agatha laughs, can feel it, can see it in the line of her shoulders, in the way she leans back a little.

 

“No, but I’m sure you have.” 

 

“Pietro liked that sort of thing,” she says simply, softly, like she always does when she mentions any of them, any of the people she lost.

 

“Is this supposed to be some sort of remark about my circle, darling?” 

 

“Well, it’s like we’re about to attempt to throw each other in the dirt.” 

 

“Aren’t we?” she says, and finally rises to accept her tea, all her confidence clear on her face.

 

“But less of the physically,” she returns, and she gets to watch Agatha laugh this time, her grin wide and sharp like it always is, and she hates that she notices, hates the way that her heart hurts, sometimes, like it recognises something there that she had thought she would never have again. It feels like some kind of new beginning, and it feels horrible, at the same time, because it is so soon, and surely Vision deserves better than that, deserves better than her flirting with this woman who is some kind of evil, some form of something that Wanda knows that she shouldn’t associate with.

 

“Trust me, witch duelling can get very physical,” and there’s something on her face that makes Wanda want to blush and she ducks her head, looks into her mug instead, hands cupped around it for strength.

 

“Are there rules?” 

 

“Not particularly,” and her following grin is something sharp and feral, something Wanda thinks she could cut herself on, something that makes her think she might not mind doing so, and it’s that that makes her worry it’s too soon. She hasn’t been punished enough, hasn’t mourned enough, hasn’t paid proper respect to Vision’s memory.

 

“Okay, just let me finish my tea.” They haven’t talked about how Wanda is obviously going to have to give her her magic back, don’t talk about whether they trust each other or not. It’s a pointless exercise, talking about it, when Wanda knows that within this dome Agatha can’t leave without her, even if she had already removed the runes that meant that Agatha wouldn’t have been able to use her magic.

 

“Okay,” she says again, after a long moment, after a long pull of her tea, and she takes a deep breath, puts her mug on the floor outside the circle, and gently places her forefingers on Agatha’s temples. There’s a second of some form of agonising eye contact, brightest blue cleaving her in half, and then she slips her eyes closed, and when it’s done, not even a second later, and she opens them again, like an extended blink, Agatha has an expression that’s something like sheer, unbridled joy on her face. 

 

She’s in the air before Wanda can adjust, like she’s desperately missed the sky, and Wanda supposes that she must have, during all that time without something that they’d both previously taken for granted. She doesn’t give her a chance, doesn’t seem to need the same moment that Wanda does, and within seconds there’s purple fire raining down and she’s throwing a red shield up.

 

“You sure you don’t wanna acclimatise?” she yells, ignoring the purple raining down on her, and Agatha just laughs.

 

“Let’s stretch these legs, baby!” and she does something complicated with her hands and suddenly the ground underneath Wanda is giving way, and she’s soaring up and to the left without thinking, coming level with her, and she’s still throwing purple bolts across the sky, still better at aiming than Wanda thinks she’ll ever be.

 

Wanda does, it turns out, end up in the dirt a few times. But Agatha does too so she doesn’t feel too bad about it, and is also unsure what they’re learning, other than that Agatha’s takedowns are generally quite inventive. She almost complains and then she realises that Agatha will say that that’s the point, that she’s trying to teach her to think on her feet, when Wanda has been having to do that for years already. She won’t push it, for now, if only because even with the sweat and the dust, it’s kind of fun. They stop for lunch. Agatha refuses to walk anywhere, floats in the middle of the cabin and bangs her head, grinning like she’s been reunited with a lost loved one. And that’s fun, too, seeing Agatha this happy and excited, seeing her send things flying around the kitchen for no reason other than that she can

 

“Just try not to break anything,” she says, when she realises she’s smiling too much, when she tries to reign it in.

 

“Why? I can just fix it, if I do.”

 

“Just don’t get too trigger happy, you’re gonna need a nap at this rate,” because she’s noticed, even if Agatha hasn’t, that she’s getting tired, that her casting is a little slower, that she’s a bit pale where she’d been flushed earlier.

 

“Alright pumpkin, if you insist,” she floats back down to the floor, rolls her eyes, but Wanda sees the way that her hand trembles a little when she pushes her hair back from her forehead. “You’ve gotta work on your defensive spells,” she distracts, and Wanda lets her, lets her draw her into a conversation on how she can’t just depend on being more powerful than her assailant.

 

They start duelling in the morning, but it’s not working; Wanda isn’t experiencing huge surges of power, is steadier than she’s been since she lost Pietro, and she doesn’t understand how that’s possible. She’d spent months swinging between inconsolable and so full of rage that she trashed the entire cabin without intending to, one conjuring spell leading to some form of explosion. She’d lose hours and wake up in tears, surrounded by exploded furniture. Her grief had been too large for her and her hands to contain - at one point she’d been simply completing all activities without using magic, because she knew what would probably happen. She doesn’t express this to Agatha, doesn’t want another comment about therapy, not when she’s started to think maybe she’s simply growing around her grief, that it still hurts but that it’s not so big she can’t contain it anymore. And then the nightmares start.

 

She’s woken up by Agatha grabbing her, and that’s when she realises that someone’s screaming, and when it stops a moment later she realises it was her, and she’s horrified, barely able to think enough to even work out what she was screaming about. She takes some deep breaths, and Agatha is simply there, just holding her arm, looming next to her in the dark of her little room in what she thinks of these days as their cabin, like she knows that what Wanda needs most right now is to know that that someone is there with her, someone to ground her in this reality. She doesn’t mean to do it, when she puts her hand over hers on her arm, as though she’s holding her there, her eyes wide as she looks into Agatha’s face, pale and drawn in the dark, her eyes still not completely open, heavy-lidded with sleep in a way that means she was in here before she even really knew what she doing.

 

“I saw them,” she says, eventually, lips dry and voice cracking. “I saw Billy and Tommy. They were,” she frowns. “They were trapped.”

 

“Did you have nightmares before ?” she asks, as though if Wanda had been screaming in the night before she might have slept through it.

 

“Not like that,” she shakes her head slowly. “Nothing like that.” 

 

“You were doing better,” Agatha say, voice soft and nothing like the way she usually talks to Wanda; they don’t do this, talk about what happened or how she feels, they both usually pretend like there’s no history between them, like there’s no corpses that litter both of their pasts.

 

“I know,” she scrubs a hand over her face, looks around the room and realises half of her furniture is smashed, that her wardrobe is in pieces, her bedside table on its side. She waves her hands and everything rights itself. “It’s only fair that I should be tortured by nightmares too, after everything I’ve done.”

 

“That’s not really fair,” she sits on the edge of the bed finally, and Wanda doesn’t really think as she moves up, making space for her next to her, an invitation that Agatha takes, swinging her legs up onto the bed, leaning back against the headboard. Some dreams need someone else there in the wake of them, regardless of who that person is, regardless of whether Wanda thinks they don’t follow her arbitrary moral code, regardless of whether she actually likes them or not (and Wanda would never tell anyone that she likes Agatha very much, is glad it’s her that’s here with her).

 

The nightmares become a constant, and Agatha ends up in Wanda’s bed every night. They pretend like it isn’t happening, like it won’t happen, and every night Wanda wakes up screaming with Agatha sliding into bed next to her, with her pulling her into her arms, tears streaming down Wanda’s face. And she goes back to sleep with her face pressed into Agatha’s shoulder, and their mornings get later and later, as both of them find it harder and harder to get back to sleep. Agatha doesn’t know how to help her and Wanda doesn’t know how to see this kindness and not do something that is definitely getting attached. She was already attached, if she’s honest with herself, if she really looks at the ways in which she responds to her, if she really lets herself feel lingering looks and simmering tension.

 

It starts getting to the point where Wanda stops going to bed, because she knows she’ll see them, hear them screaming, and she’s so scared of when this is followed by Vision too, because she’s not who she was when she was with him anymore, isn’t his broken perfect girl. Because she knows that what she did means it’s too late for them, even if they do see each other again, because she knows that she doesn’t think she wants that, anymore, and that scares her, that the extent of her grief was so large for something she might have been wrong about.

 

She stops sleeping and that means Agatha stops sleeping too, and pretty soon they’re trying to duel but they’re grouchy and exhausted, and maybe this is good practice, because Wanda thinks she might be spiralling out of control, might be one second away from snapping. Agatha is the only thing that’s keeping her holding it together, and she watches her push her hair back with black-tipped fingers, watches her square her shoulders and her hands come back up to her resting duelling pose, sleeves pushed up to her elbows.

 

“Come on then, princess,” she yells, and it should be annoying but it just makes Wanda laugh, makes her smile, and she wants to spiral for different reasons, wants to throw herself to the wolves (Agatha’s all wolf, really, all sharp teeth and thick mane). She is clearly insane, falling for this woman while her children that never really existed cry in her dreams, while her husband lies not long dead (she doesn’t know how long it’s been anymore, doesn’t know if it’ll ever be long enough for it to feel fair, for it to feel some form of acceptable). 

 

“Stop staring at me and move, gorgeous,” she follows up with, and Wanda goes a bright red that at any other time she would be proud of but right now she just wants Wanda to blast her out of the sky so that she has an excuse to have a nap.

 

Wanda moves.

 

She never loses it at Agatha. They don’t return to Wanda not using her magic, and she never blows up anything apart from when she’s half asleep. The nightmares don’t get any worse, and for that she’s thankful, because she feels as though she’s holding on by a thread. Both of them are snappy and hostile, drowsy and stressed, and Wanda starts a habit of drifting off on the sofa while she’s supposed to be reading, and she always wakes up with Agatha crammed in next  oher. It would be cozy and domestic, if she wasn’t plagued by constant nausea and the feeling that doom is imminent. Something has to give. In the end that something is Agatha.

 

It’s 1am. Wanda can’t ask her for what she needs, and she went to bed hours ago anyway, claiming she’s too old for late nights, but she comes out of her room to where Wanda’s on the sofa, hair mussed like she’s been tossing and turning, wearing purple pyjamas Wanda’s seen a million times.

 

“Come on,” she says, impatient, and Wanda just stares at her stupidly, because she doesn’t know what’s happening. “I can’t sleep because I’m waiting for you to start screaming, you’re putting off going to bed because you don’t want to start screaming, so looks like we’re destined to become roommates, hot stuff,” and she walks right past her, goes into her room, and climbs into her bed. Wanda stares after her dumbly, but eventually she gets up and follows her, slips into bed next to her, ignores that she hasn’t gotten ready for bed because she doesn’t know how to reconcile the idea of getting ready for a bed that Agatha is already in. Agatha feigns sleep. It’s a kindness, and one that Wanda isn’t able to embrace because even though she was drifting in and out of sleep on the sofa now she’s wide awake, aware of their closeness in the dark, hyper aware of their arms almost touching, lying on her back stiff like a board. 

 

Agatha rolls over, eventually, because the whole of this was that they actually get some fucking sleep, and she pulls her close, Wanda’s head on her shoulder like it usually is in the middle of the night, and she knows this was the right decision by how easily Wanda comes to her, her arm wrapping around her middle, letting out a breath that she didn’t know she was holding.

 

She doesn’t dream that night, and it becomes their new normal. She brings Agatha coffee in her bed sometimes, and it screams of something that she’s told herself she’s not allowed to ask for, something she’s not allowed to want. Sometimes Agatha looks at her like she knows, and her own anger at herself makes her train harder, cast faster, and Agatha still knows more than she ever probably will, but she starts consistently winning. And she’s better technically now, can do so much more than illusions, can make things real in a way Agatha can’t, most of the time. Unless Agatha knows the object and it’s inner workings well, or it’s not particularly complex. Wanda has the sheer power to just simply muddle through, and sometimes that makes Agatha mad, but mostly she’s just impressed and proud of her progress, consistently shocked by the sheer amount of power that Wanda holds, power that she still barely knows how to wield, power that’s just waiting to burst out of her. She’s got a whole chapter in the Book of the Damned and she’s here, squirrelled away, trying to do as little harm as she can/ There’s a past version of Agatha that’s impressed by this, but the current version sometimes has to remind herself it’s not a waste. They’re practically immortal, under the right conditions, they’ve got all the time in the world.

 

Agatha hits the dirt again. Kind of hard, this time, and Wanda is there before she’s even finished sitting up, fussing over her, making sure nothing is broken, all flyaway hairs sticking to a slightly sweaty neck, all deep frown and worried green eyes, and Agatha doesn’t know what to do with it, really. She’s been here so many times, at this point with women in the past, but none of them have been this kind of tortured, none of them so full of grief that they still cry in their sleep, sometimes, even with Agatha there (she doesn’t think Wanda remembers her dreams on those nights, doesn’t think she ever wakes up enough to realise. Agatha always does). Wanda is the most important person in her life, is smiles over toast and warm cups of coffee, mugs of tea left on the side and forgotten about, is red magic and power and the smell of cinnamon. She’s been flirting with her under so many guises, has been here for her when Wanda thought she had nothing left, and she won’t ruin that by being overwhelmed by someone attempting to take care of her, won’t interpret that as some form of permission.

 

“I think you might have me beat,” she says, and Wanda stops fussing, kneeling next to her and becoming very still, eyes wide and looking directly into hers, close but never close enough.

 

“You don’t wanna go again?” But she knows what she means, they both know that Wanda hasn’t been the one plummeting to earth in a while. 

 

“No, I think this part of your training is over, gorgeous,” because that’s a pet name she uses a lot now, and it’s somehow devoid of the ironic lilt of the others, like she means it, like she’s trying to say something she can’t just come out and say.

 

“But then… what?” she asks, soft and quiet, like she’s scared of the answer.

 

“I think it’s time we saw the real world again, honey.” And she’s gentle, gentle like Wanda is only used to at night, gentle in a way that shows how much she means it, how much she means whatever it is that sits between them. 

 

“Does that mean…” she trails off, looks at her hands, resting on her thighs, thinks about how her life is about to change. “Are you… leaving?”

 

“You?” and Wanda nods, eyes filled with unshed tears already. “I suppose I don’t have anything else planned, if you wanna keep me around for a little longer, darling.”

 

Wanda isn’t thinking when she rushes forward to hug her, the force of it almost knocking Agatha back into the dirt, like she doesn’t know her own strength, like she doesn’t know what she’s doing, which makes sense because she doesn’t, if she’s honest.

 

“So where are we going, sweetcheeks?” she asks, amused, when Wanda leans back, and they both smile. 

 

They end up in New York, because Wanda loves the noise and the chaos and there’s a SWORD base there, and Monica’s there when she’s not disappeared on super secret tasks that Agatha privately thinks have nothing to do with her work. There’s a one bedroom that Wanda loves. Monica raises her eyebrows when she visits, but they sit a suitable distance apart on the sofa, even if they both lean in more often than they should. Wanda starts reporting to SWORD, their new director seems marginally more pleasant than the last, and Agatha finds a coven in New York and doesn’t drain them or tell them about Wanda, other than saying she’s her uninteresting roommate and it’s. Well. It’s life. It’s real life, with the both of them. It’s not hiding, flung out of time, it’s not taking themselves away. Time passes.

 

There’s a few incidents Wanda gets involved with, she does some saving of innocents, feels as though she’s giving back. Agatha hates half the witches she knows within three months and 85% of them within six. And she still holds Wanda through the night. And Wanda cries less, now, and one morning, with the sun shining through the windows and Agatha just waking up, she thinks she might be ready. She thinks she’s ready, for what this’ll bring, thinks she’s ready to risk losing someone again. She kisses her, soft but unquestionable, undeniable, because she wants this and Agatha has been flirting with her for what feels like a century.

 

“I think you just found my favourite way to wake up, hot stuff,” and she winks.