They were determined to make the past now an impossibility.

Never again were young witches going to be overpowered. Never again would they be helpless without the use of their wands. Never again would they be discovered, persecuted, snuffed out. They would be stronger, and smarter, and more capable than any man. Their wands and their bodies and their minds would be their weapons now. They would never have a reason to fear society. Never again.

Salem Witches Institute accepted girls of every type, of every background. Pureblood, mixed blood, muggleborn. Long hair, short hair, no hair, spiked hair, and dyed hair. Girls from the small wizarding villages where caps and petticoats were still in fashion. Girls who could sprint down the corridors in six inch heels when they were tardy. Girls who wore makeup like armour, girls who sported plasters like badges of honour, girls who thumbed through fashion magazines like holy texts, girls who debated sci-fi trivia and hashed out worlds of their own, girls who breathlessly clung to the words in novels and girls who turned the pages of comic books with growing delight, girls who were all of these things and more.

Girls of every colour, of every nationality, of every culture and subculture and clan. Tall girls, short girls, thin girls, fat girls, pale girls, dark girls, trans* girls, and girls who loved or were girls, boys, both, neither, all, or none at all. Pierced girls, painted girls, girls in wheelchairs, girls with prosthetic limbs that they hid and learned to wear with pride, girls who couldn’t see or speak or hear, girls who needed medication to live. Girls who needed a place to stay. Girls who didn’t feel accepted. Girls who felt that no one would ever care what a woman had to think.

They were taught that they didn’t exist to please anyone but themselves, that they had no obligation to be quiet, that if they were sweet and feminine then it would be by choice and not by a contract that they were made to think that they’d signed the moment they were born. They were taught ethics and psychology—how to tell a good relationship from a poisonous one, how to be a good person instead of conforming to ideals about good women. They were taught that they were worth something, how to love themselves and accept each other, how to help the underdog without becoming the wolf.

They were taught how to fight. They were taught when to run.

A Salem witch without her wand could disarm and fell a man in the time it took to cry, “Expelliarmus!” A Salem witch with her wand was unstoppable. Shortcomings turned into disguises—into invisibility cloaks concealing the warrior beneath like Trojan horses—deceptively weak and a maelstrom just waiting to be unleashed. Strengths were sharpened until every girl had a hundred blades at her disposal and a thousand shields to defend herself with. They were taught when to stand their ground and when to disappear, how to dismantle injustice and how to escape with their lives. They were encouraged to be the best that they could be, and not once were they scorned or belittled for not making the highest marks or not knowing what they’d like to do with their lives.

Above all else, they were taught that they could always come home.

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