Ada Cackle/Hecate Hardbroom

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Pairing: Ada Cackle/Hecate Hardbroom
Alternative name(s): Hackle
Gender category: F/F
Fandom: The Worst Witch (2017)
Canonical?: No
Prevalence: One of two major pairings in the fandom
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Ada Cackle/Hecate Hardbroom, also known as Hackle, is a popular femslash pairing in the fandom for The Worst Witch (2017). The characters involved are Ada Cackle, the headmistress of Cackle's Academy for Witching Excellence, and Hecate Hardbroom, deputy headmistress of the same school.


Interest in the pairing began in January 2017, in the days immediately following the BBC airing of the first episode of the show, which features an important moment between the two characters.[1] Further episodes in the first season featured more shippable moments and evidence for the depth of the relationship between the characters. However, the fandom for the pairing did not gather much speed until the summer/autumn of that year,[2] after the show became available to international viewers on Netflix.


Canonically, Ada and Hecate have known each other for many years and work together closely. They are on a first-name basis and regularly confide in one another and support one another in moments of difficulty or emotional distress. Canon has hinted that, at some point in the past, Ada helped or supported Hecate in a substantial way.

For many fans, the appeal of the pairing lies in this sense of a long shared history, the loyalty and devotion they show to one another, and the strong on-screen chemistry between them. Fans are also drawn to Hackle because of the characters' status as mature, highly competent women in positions of significant authority and responsibility, who nevertheless sometimes need to lean on each other for support.

Tropes and Themes

  • The pairing lends itself to the Friends to Lovers trope due to their long association.
  • Fluff is a popular subgenre.
  • Many fanworks focus on questions of responsibility and duty, especially in the context of Ada's long family history of leading the school, and Hecate's rigid adherence to the Witches' Code.
  • Power dynamics are regularly explored, with fanworks depicting ways the characters might navigate their romance given their working relationship.
  • Fanworks often highlight the differences between the characters' teaching personas and their personalities when in private.
  • Relaxation is a popular theme - both characters are canonically busy and work hard, and fic and art often depict the ways they unwind together.



  • Woo Me Until the Sun Comes Up (and say you love me), by cassiopeiasara. Aiming for a small bit of excitement in her life, Ada resolves to have a one night stand in celebration of her 40th birthday. She fully expects never to see the gorgeous stranger again. To her astonishment, the woman appears a year later in the form of the new potions mistress her mother hired. Misunderstandings, awkward encounters, and growing affection all take place as Ada and Hecate learn to work together and wonder if something more than friendship and respectful professional regard can exist between them.
  • Roses and Thorns, by Meridel. When Hecate is exposed to a dangerous and deadly plant, it's up to Ada to rescue her before Hecate's powers are lost.
  • a new love whispering, by parcequelle. The first time Ada saw Hecate Hardbroom smile was a long time before she first called her Hecate.
  • Once, by rainshaded. Just once won't hurt...
  • the light is hard to find, by walkthegale. Hecate needs some help relaxing after an interesting day.




Fests and Challenges

Hackle-specific Events

Other Events with Substantial Hackle Content


  1. ^ A Hackle gifset posted to Tumblr in the week following the airing of the first episode
  2. ^ The AO3 tag for the pairing shows one fic in February 2017 and one in May, followed by a flurry in August, September and October, after which works are posted regularly.