The Responsible Witch (The Ward Witches)

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Lauren McMinn



Copyright © 2012 Lauren McMinn

All rights reserved.




ISBN-13: 978-14










To Jonathan McMinn

For his infinite support

















Dymphna Ward sighed heavily and put down her pen. Today was her last day at work for a long time, and it was quitting time for the night. She didn't expect the concept to hit her so hard.

We'll miss you, Dymphna!” Jackie and Maria exclaimed together, coming into her office.

It's going to be awfully boring around here without you to liven things up,” Jackie said.

Oh come on. You two are great with or without me.”

Yeah, but taking on your cases as you go on sabbatical isn't something to look forward to,” Maria complained, but she was smiling.

You'll be fine.”

Ah, we can't complain too much,” Jackie reminded Maria with a bump to her arm. “If anyone needs a sabbatical, it's Dymphna.”

Jackie, Maria, and Dymphna had been friends since they met in law school. Then afterward, it seemed only natural that they should start up a law firm themselves. They all did their time in the bigger law firms until they knew enough, had enough experience, and had enough money to start their own, but it had been in the plan all along. By the time they finally got there, they were close enough to rely on each other like sisters.

But Dymphna in particular was a workaholic, and the others had been pressuring her to take a break. This would be the first time she'd taken any more than a three day weekend since she started working.

But it had been that know-it-all Melanie who provided the impetus behind this sabbatical. Three months, she said! Melanie had straight up challenged Dymphna that she couldn't go three months without working! She'd show her wrong.

Of course, the rest of her family were also to blame. Skylar echoed Melanie's challenge, and Leo just laughed at the idea of Dymphna doing something other than working. Justin pointed out that the Dark Order witches were becoming more and more of a problem recently and that she could help more if she wasn't so concerned with work. They had been rebuffed months ago, but there was evidence that they were rebounding strongly. Seb echoed his twin's sentiment. Skylar even threw in the point that both she and Fiona were pregnant, and they could use some extra help getting their jobs done for the Coven.

So, after the whole lot of them ganged up against her, Dymphna's temper got the better of her and she accepted the challenge.

By the time she had cooled down, it seemed like a really bad idea, but the challenge had been issued and accepted. Dymphna wouldn't let herself go back on her word. So she dutifully closed up anything she could close up and passed the rest on to Maria and Jackie over the last month. She was so busy that it actually took a month just to tie up loose ends. But there was no more delaying, and it was finally time to leave.

Enjoy yourself,” Maria said, giving her a hug before she could take her box and get out the door.

Try going on a date,” Jackie added, also giving Dymphna a hug,

Dymphna laughed. “You know I don't date.”

You could give it a try,” Jackie winked. “But in any case, get some rest. The law will still be here in three months, and you'll be better ready to face it.”

Thanks guys. I know I couldn't do this without you.”

After the number of times you've been there for us, this is nothing,” Maria said, and Jackie nodded.

Dymphna nodded finally, and she left.

When Leo had gone into private practice, he thought it would be highly amusing and convenient to work in the same building as his twin sister, so Dymphna wasn't surprised to see his car parked next to hers. He must be caught up with paperwork or something to be staying so late on a Friday. Leo, like Dymphna, was a workaholic. But since his magical marriage to Skylar, he had been cutting back. He took less and less new cases these days, had obtained a partner for the growing number of clients he got, and organized his schedule better so that he could have more time at home with her. He was thrilled that in about another two months he'd be a father. Dymphna was glad to see her brother so happy, and she had to like Skylar for doing that. Considering that there were few people Dymphna really liked, that was saying something.

Dymphna kept the window of her car a little cracked to let in the bracing November air as she drove home. One thing she wouldn't miss was the commute. The Coven House, where she was born and raised, was a sprawling mansion a ways outside of Boston, and when she and Leo had decided to move out and buy their own place, they chose a smaller place near the Coven House. Smaller being relative, that is, because Ward Manor still had twenty rooms and a good deal of grounds.

She toyed with stopping by the Coven House to rub it in Melanie's face that she was doing the sabbatical, just like she promised. But she'd see Melanie soon enough, and she wanted to beat Leo home for once.

When she got there, she appreciated the clean driveway. It looked as if it didn't dare get ice on it. Considering the kind of spell that Skylar put on it using her fire witch powers, it probably didn't. Skylar was powerful, and even Dymphna didn't want to go up against her when she was in full-on-witch mode. Even if Dymphna beat her, it would be ugly on both sides. It was a good thing Skylar was so easy to get along with.

After fumbling with the key in the lock, Dymphna came in to see Skylar singing loudly and off-key in the kitchen. Her very pregnant sister-in-law was even dancing a bit. Dymphna held back the impulse to laugh.

How's it going?”

Skylar squeaked in surprise as she turned to face her. “Oh hey, welcome home. Did everything go alright?”

Yeah,” Dymphna said as she laid her box on one of the couches. “It's all set, and I shouldn't have to go back up to the office at all for the next three months.” She sighed. “I miss it already.”

You'll see, though, everything will be fine. I think by the end of your sabbatical, you'll even be enjoying yourself, believe it or not.”

I don't think so.”

Either way, Justin wanted me to tell you that you're welcome anytime over at Coven Protection.”

Running low on hands, is he?”

You betcha. But that's on your schedule. I think you should take a few days totally off to get the feel of it first.”

You're probably right. I remember that you also had a hectic full time job, which you stopped suddenly.”

By which you mean fired, I presume.”

Yes, precisely. So can you make a suggestion about something to do during all this free time I now have?”

Sure thing. I know you like movies, so I would suggest getting into your pajamas with fuzzy slippers, ice cream, and a soda and watching movies.”

I don't want to gain weight, Skylar.”

Believe me, a little splurge will be worth it if you can finally get some relaxation in.”

Alright, I'll bite. Would you like to take tomorrow off your efforts and join me?”

I'd love to!”

I'll go get the ice cream tonight. What's your favorite flavor? You'd better believe I'm not going to pig out on ice cream if you're not.”

I'm all for ice cream. I like chocolate chip cookie dough.”


Will it be safe for the babies?”

As a water witch, Dymphna was Skylar's midwife of a sort. Magical babies needed more magic than a mother's body could make, especially if the parents were as strong as Leo and Skylar were. So the water witch, and preferably one related by blood to the baby, would provide extra magic to help the growth. Fiona, one of Dymphna's other sisters-in-law, had formulated a potion to take as well, but since Skylar was having twins, she had to be careful.

We'll do some extra yoga to make up for it.”

I like that idea.”

Leo came in to see them smiling and debating movie choices. “Is it too much to hope that dinner's ready? I'm hungry.”

It's ready. I've got smothered pork chops with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables for dinner tonight.”

Excellent. Skylar, you're amazing,” Leo said as he kissed his wife on the cheek. He placed a hand on her stomach, and his face lit up when he felt a kick, just like it always did. Dymphna had never seen him as happy as he'd been since he met Skylar, and that made her happy. Of course, Skylar's kitchen skills didn't hurt, as evidenced by the speed that the food disappeared from the table.

After dinner, Dymphna went to the store to get the ice cream for the next day. As long as she was out, she headed over to the entertainment section of the store to peruse the movies.

Hey, Dymphna, long time no see,” a petite redhead greeted her, coming over. Dymphna had been so far into her own head that she hadn't even noticed Rita approach.

It's only been a few days since the last meeting, Rita.” Dymphna smiled despite herself. Rita was one of the other water witches in the Coven, and one of the few who chose to be part of the National Coven rather than move to the new North East Coven when the National Coven was founded by her brother Seb. Rita now worked at Coven House as the official Healer.

You should stop by the House more often. Melanie's been putting us to work.” They both knew she meant the Coven House, but neither one of them were going to mention witches or covens in public. It wasn't a secret, but there was no reason to call attention to themselves like that.

I imagine she is. Is she still on that kick to improve PR?”

Of course she is.  But now that she's got Fiona there and Rose and Jasmine,” Melanie's twins, “are starting to get more independent, it's kicked into high gear. But I do have to admit that she's got some great ideas.”

Don't complain too much. I know you're friends with Fiona.” Rita and Justin shared the duties of being Fiona's midwife since they lived at the Coven House together. It made it easier on Dymphna that she was midwife for only one of her sister-in-laws.

That's for sure. Are you here for a video game as well?”

I was going to get a movie. I've never really played video games.”

You should totally try it sometime. It's great stress relief for me, and it's a lot of fun.”

Dymphna almost said no instantly, but she reconsidered. She was on a sabbatical, after all, so she'd have plenty of time to learn how to do it. Besides, she was supposed to be relaxing, and video games were considered relaxation. Why not? “I think I'll try it. What would you suggest?”

A few hundred dollars later, Dymphna got out of there with a Playstation 3 and a whole bundle of games in addition to her ice cream. She got a little too enthusiastic in the frozen foods aisle, and she had enough ice cream that she'd need to put some out in the garage freezer.

Leo laughed when she got home with her new things. “You're going to play video games?” She appreciated that he didn't comment on the ice cream at all. Skylar's eyes, however, did not leave the treats as she took charge of putting that part of the trip's spoils away.

I'm going to give it a try. Rita said to plug it in and let it do its updates and such tonight, then really get down to playing tomorrow.”

Do you even know how to play video games?” Leo asked, still laughing.

I'm going to learn. Can't be too hard, right?”

At that, Skylar joined in the laughing. “Oh, you'll see. I've spent my fair time on a game; maybe I can show you something.”

Rita is only doing a half day tomorrow, and she promised to come by after and help me out as well.”

Skylar got the Playstation running and installing updates, and then she switched it back to TV for the night. The three of them watched John Carpenter's
Ghosts of Mars
for about the fifth time. Leo started making noises about going to bed, and Skylar got that tired look in her eyes. Dymphna didn't want to interfere with that, so she said goodnight. It was getting late anyway, so she might as well go upstairs herself. She set her alarm out of habit, then turned it back off. Sleeping in would be nice. Maybe this sabbatical would be better than she had thought at first.


Indeed, Dymphna slept in until nearly noon. Skylar was already typing away on her computer in the kitchen.

Morning, sleepyhead.”

Good morning. What are you working on?”

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