knocking at the devil's door

being believed as a witch is pretty hard, despite the fact that superheroes pop up on the television all the time. annie boils with rage at the fact that so many people don't believe her when she says it, and more than anything, she wants to prove them wrong. about her, about magic.

it's a thought that has lodged itself in her head for months now, watching the news carefully, updating the accounts she has, asking for advice. how to pull something out to show to others, to improve her magic. there are some who keep warning about it, citing the rule of three — but that's not real. it came from a movie and as far as annie believes, it's not something that applies. not with the destruction that hits san francisco, not with the fact that she's seen footage — replayed over and over again on her phone — of the very earth cracking open as if it was easy. the rule of three couldn't exist in a world where supergirl grew hundreds of feet tall, where demons and monsters emerged from the deep so easy, where there were rumors more and more of horrible things coming alive.

annie believes there are no rules. none like that at least, none that would be about consequence in that, no rule of three. that was made up for dumb little cable shows.

real magic had to be limitless.

and in light of that she does her best to track down sightings, to hear things. there's a rumor in various places about a magic shop — a place that only appears when it wanted to, and annie waits and waits for it to happen to her. for a coffee shop to turn into a haunted house for a school door to lead her down a hall, for something, anything to guide her there. that shop has books, crystals, any and everything she needs to prove magic is real.

(it does not occur to her once that if you go knocking on the devil's door, one day that he will open it.)

and then, on a day in july, she finally puts her fingers on a door, walks through it expecting a grocery store. instead, she steps inside a place with a dark hardwood floor, an array of candles set out, and rows and rows of books that have odd titles on them.

when the door shuts behind her, she smiles. the shelves have jars that contain things that writhe, an eye staring at her as she steps further in. even the air itself is strange, and annie knows that what she is looking for has finally come to her.

magic is in her grasp, quite literally.

and gettting an answer

she wastes no time in looking through the books, the hallways available to her. whenever voices begin to carry, whenever she hears someone, annie turns a corner, hides away from them. her heart hammers in her chest; she doesn't want to be found out, doesn't want anyone to end this before it begins.

this, being… whatever she could do to have magic for herself. to claim it, to be one with it. how, she doesn't know. only that she goes deeper and deeper. there are doors on either side, endlessly but despite the knobs or lack thereof, annie doesn't feel that they're for her. she doesn't know how or why she knows this, only whatever had called her here wasn't behind those doors.

her feet hit the floor harder and harder, and when she finally thinks that she might be too tired, that she can't go any further, a door knob gleams. it's the one she's looking for and annie grasps it, feeling her heart pounding louder and louder in her ears as she turns it. the door opens easily beneath her hand and when she slips inside, it locks with a snap.

(she does not know that it locks from the outside nor does she know that a pair of demons begin to snicker behind her.)

before her is a room swathed in a near darkness — near darkness that emits from a crystal set in the center of the room. her hand is sweaty as she fumbles fo her phone to record it and she lets out a squeak when it drops from her hand and onto to the floor. hastily, she bends down, grabs it and his record, voice a whisper, "i-i'm in the shop. the one you guys talked about. i don't know what this is but i'm going to just… i think i'm going to touch it. see what it does."

she doesn't have the sense to not think it through. her mind is filled with the thought, that she has to touch it, that this crystal needed to be in her hands now now now—

the gleaming dark crystal is as black as obsidian and when her fingers wrap around it, it hums. the word resonance floats up in her head. it is cool to the touch at first, like wrapping her hand around a bead. annie grins —

— and then there's an explosion, in her head, right behind her eyes. all at once, whispers cloud her, yelling a hundred voices and then a thousand and then a million and she's shrieking in pain, no no, take her hand off! get away, get away! no please—

there's a pulse from the crystal that doesn't blow her back. it completely obliterates annie all at once, and ripples out towards the only person in the world that crystal actually belonged to: madelyne pryor. it slams into her, all at once — her eyes roll up to her head, her body seizes and she collapses on the altar she had been working on, eyes turning as black as the dark m'kraan she had created.

the demons who had led annie in, their laughter ceases. their queen is affected and they all know that the instant she wakes up, it'll be their heads that will roll.