Yes. It’s been a while. And yes…

The new adventure of Hilda the Wicked Witch is approaching.

August 3rd 2019 is the date, and the e-book store closest to you is the place. I can’t promise I’ll be there in person, but the book will be, so fire up your e-readers!

Hilda - Queen of the Rock. (BOok 23)

Pretty cover, isn’t it? Ominous and meaningful – as soon as you know the story.

As usual, the paperback will come out later…

For those curious, let me treat you to chapter one already! Others: don’t go beyond this line.

1. Competition

Times had been difficult around the house of the magicals, but that was about to change. Hilda was relieved about that, but the worst had yet to happen. Actually it was about to happen.

“You need to push!”

“I am pushing!”

“You’re not!” Gelsey, Sunrise’s finest midwife, wasn’t satisfied with how Hilda was handling this. “You’ll never get this baby delivered if you keep holding it in, honourable witch.”

“I am not keeping it in! Crappedy craaaaaa….”

-=-=-=

William, Rune and Oona sat in the living room and heard what was happening. The wizard kept an eye on Isla, who had just started to walk. She was moving along the bookshelves, holding on to the big tomes with her little hands.

“Is Mama in pain?” Rune looked at the staircase as if he wanted to run up and help Hilda.

“No, she’s not.” William was convinced of that. Hilda would resort to magic before pain became an issue. He did wonder why she was going through all this. His sweetwitch had told him how easy it had been for her mother, who had relied on nothing but magic to give birth. On the other hand, Hilda usually wasn’t the one to take the easy way out.

“Push!” they heard Gelsey command Hilda. The word triggered several things. Isla, holding on to a smaller book, jumped for shock (as far as her tiny legs could make her jump). Her motion pulled the book from the shelf (her fingers forgot to let go). Isla’s behind and the book both raced towards the floor and it probably was the book that won. To her credit, Isla screamed harder than the book.

“Holy Bejeebus,” said William as he got up to rescue the little girl. Before he reached the little girl (who screamed more from surprise of finding herself on the floor than from pain), another scream came from the upper floor. It was Hilda’s.

“Oh my,” said the house. “That was quick.”

“Mama!” Rune and Oona ran up the stairs, with William and Isla in hot pursuit. By the time they reached the bedroom door, they heard a baby’s cry, while Gelsey complimented Hilda on a job well done.

“Hilda!” William opened the door and barged in, together with Oona and Rune. They saw Gelsey standing near the bed. She held a tiny, squealing baby upside down. “What are you doing?”

“I know what I’m doing,” said Gelsey, “so you’d better let me do it.” She knew she was the master of this situation, so magical people didn’t frighten her today.

“Hilda, how are you?” William walked to the bed and sat down next to his witch. She looked tired, she was red in her face and there was so much less of her suddenly. All those months she’d been walking around, getting bigger, seemed to have disappeared. The result of that was now in Gelsey’s hands, who placed the tiny human on Hilda’s breast.

“I don’t know, William,” said Hilda, who felt empty and relieved and tired and a thousand things more, “but we have a son.”

-=-=-

Hilda sat outside, basking in the sun, with a tiny bundle in her arms. Oona, Rune and Isla shared another sun-bed, observing the sleeping baby. Oona was once again lecturing Rune (and to a lesser degree Isla) on the fact that they now had a little brother, until she reached the end of her wisdom. This was where she had stopped talking several times before.

“Mama… what is his name? Have papa and you decided yet?”

Hilda looked into Oona’s big, black eyes for a moment. “No. Not yet.” Naming a child was complicated, she had noticed.

“You could call him Rune,” said Rune. “It’s a good name. I like it very much.”

“That would make things complicated, Rune,” Hilda said. “Suppose I would call your little brother and you wouldn’t know if you or he should come to me.”

“Oh.” Rune nodded. “Maybe Rune the second? Then I’d be Rune the first.” He’d suggested that about a dozen time already, and a dozen times Hilda had told him it would be better for the little boy to have his own name, because there were so many good names. “If there are so many, why don’t you just pick one?” had Rune’s question been after hearing that, and each time Hilda had promised him he’d find out later. Much later, she’d added, to avoid questions about periods of time.

William came outside with the announcement that dinner was on the table. Oona and Rune cheered and ran up to him. Isla remained where she sat and looked at Hilda. She pointed at the tiny baby and said, “Mick.”

“What was that, little one?” Hilda was surprised, because so far Isla hadn’t said a word.

“Mick.” The one year old insisted by repeating the word several more times.

“William, Isla spoke! She said Mick!”

“What’s a mik?” William had already gone inside with the oldest two but came back to listen to Isla. This was either special or he was about to learn something new from this world. Despite living here for a long time, something new came up once in a while.

“Crappedy crap, I don’t know. She pointed at our baby and…”

“Mick.” Isla got up and leaned against Hilda’s knee. “Mick.” The little girl carefully touched the thin blanket that kept the baby warm. “Mick,” she said once more, as to make her point. Her little faced beamed as if she was competing with the sun.

“Mick.” William sat down with Hilda and took Isla on his knee. “Where did you pick up that name, baby girl?”

Isla looked at the wizard and gave him a big smile. “Pabba Wiyam!”

“Right,” said William. “You win.” Her smiles always won.

“Mick.” Hilda sampled the name. “Wizard, why don’t we call him Mick? That’s a good name. Short and strong. And easy to yell when he does something bad.”

“Mick.” Isla agreed with her and reached for William’s nose and squeezed it. She laughed as he sneezed. William picked her up and carried her inside, where Rune and Oona were already at the table, playing magical ping-pong with some vegetables.

“Kids! Stop that!” Hilda’s outburst broke their concentration, which made the vegetables land on the table, next to the bowl they’d been served in. “Now look what you did.” She turned to her wizard, who was so good with children.

William put a hand in Hilda’s back and directed her to her chair. He sat down, seating Isla on his knee, and looked at the food acrobats. “Why did you do that?”

“It was fun.” Oona wasn’t impressed with the stern way she was addressed.

“And now it’s cold,” William said. “We’re going to eat cold vegetables because of you two.”

“No, we’re not.” Rune’s eyes lit up. “We put them on the plates and heat up the food. It’s easy.” He pointed his index finger at the plate, as if his words hadn’t been clear enough.

William swallowed. He’d never had children before. Having Rune and Oona here had been great so far, but since some time they’d become a bit too free around the house. The fact they were magical didn’t make things much easier.

“Oh, please…” Hilda popped up her wand and corrected the situation. “Don’t make a fuss over unfussable things, William. We have more important things to handle.” William sighed. Was Hilda making things too easy on the children? It soon became clear she didn’t. “And as to you two: one more time I catch you playing with food or anything else we told you not to play with, you’re grounded.”

The effect was instantaneous. Rune and Oona sat up, arranged their plates and suddenly looked like role model children. Being grounded Hilda style was one of the worst things they could face. It meant no broom-flying for at least a week, and they loved their brooms. William had often taken them with him, on his visits to King Walt and Queen Velma. The royals loved the two, and it kept king and queen from wondering where Hilda was. Hilda had given up flying after her belly had started to get in the way.

Hilda looked at her wizard and winked. For the rest of the afternoon, or at least during the meal, the children would behave. Hilda’d gotten quite proficient in eating with a fork in one hand and a magically supported knife, while William shared his food with Isla, who always sat on his knee when they were eating.

After finishing her food, Oona asked if they could visit the king and queen again that afternoon. “They are funny. And I want to see Snow White.” Queen Velma had told her and Rune about their daughter.

“Snow White is very busy, and she lives far away. When you’re bigger we can go there,” William said, hoping that Snow White’s flock of children would be ready to face these two by then. “I planned to visit Johanna.” They hadn’t seen nor heard of the teacher-witch in a while.

“Good idea. In that time Mick and I will lay down and have a nap.” Hilda looked forward to that.

“Right…” William looked at the small girl on his knee. “In that case Isla will come with us.” Hilda looked at him. “And yes, I’ll be very careful and we’ll fly very slow.” The wicked witch relaxed only slightly after hearing that. No matter how good a broom-pilot William was, she always felt it her responsibility to take Isla with her. Now, with Mick in the family, she’d have to get used to Isla flying with William, because Mick would be with her for the coming years.

“Very well. Say hi for me when you get there.”

Hilda walked outside with them as they got ready to go. Oona and Rune proudly held their new brooms. They’d once made their own, but they had outgrown those at a scary speed, so William had made new ones for them. “Look out, you two,” she said to the oldest two. “Listen to Papa William, and do what he says.”

“Yes, Mama.” Rune as well as Oona looked at her and smiled. That was as good a promise as Hilda could get. She watched the two get onto their brooms.

William was already hovering, with Isla safely in front of him. He held an arm around her that she held on to. “Nap well, sweetwitch,” he said.

“Mind your own business,” Hilda said, knowing he understood her thank you. She looked at Mick. “And don’t be too long. And Rune, no annoying the dragons when you come back. They don’t like that.” After one of their outings, Rune had taken it upon himself to fly his broom around the dragons’ heads several times. The creatures had been good about it for a while but at some point the purple one had slapped at the little boy as a warning. That was enough for Hilda and William to keep the children away from the dragons unless they were there too.

“Right then. Here we go.” William went up slowly, keeping a decent measure of control on the other two brooms. Oona usually was good about staying with him, but Rune was a lot wilder. That had provided him with scratches and bruises more than once.

Hilda stood watching until the three shapes had become too small to see as they flew over the forest towards Sunrise. “Come, young man,” she said to Mick. “Time for us to take a… Oh, crappedy crap. Right, first that.” The aroma rising up from the baby was unmistakable.

By the time Mick was cleaned up, William and the children had reached Sunrise. On the way there Oona and Rune had asked William if they could stop at the cute, two-tower house of Johanna. Oona wanted to talk to it and Rune wanted to see if the door would now open for him.

“Hello, cute house.” Oona stood waiting for its reply, while William watched the girl. Oona hardly ever showed herself as the young girl she was, unless she was talking to Johanna’s house. Rune leaned against the door and mumbled to it.

“Hello, little witch,” said the house. “Oh my, you really look your best today.” It always said that, and it was never wasted on Oona.

“Do you think so?” Oona turned around. “From the back also?”

“Most certainly,” said the house. “It’s almost difficult to decide which side of you looks best. You have such pretty hair, little Oona.”

“Papa… It won’t open…” Rune walked up to the wizard and took his hand. “I think the house doesn’t like me.”

“Oh, little Rune,” the house immediately said, “I really like you. Much even. But I know how little boys can do things to the inside of houses, and I really like my inside the way it is, and so does Johanna. When she is here you can come in, I promise.”

Oona giggled. Again something that hardly ever happened, except perhaps when Shevaughn was around. “Maybe we should go to the school and ask Johanna to come.” William knew how she loved going inside the house that looked far too small for even her and Rune together. Baba Yaga’s magic made it a perfect home though. So perfect that the children had occasionally slept at Johanna’s place. That was also how the house had learnt what Rune could do, and a warned house…

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