The Year Before is the title of the first special issue of W.I.T.C.H. The W.I.T.C.H. comic book is known to release a special issue every year that tells a unique story about the girls, such as a what if story, or a deeper look into their own lives.
In this issue, we are given a look into the lives of Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia and Hay Lin before they became W.I.T.C.H. and before they all met each other. We are shown a special moment in each of the girls' lives and also how they first discovered their powers.
For Will, her parents had just recently divorced and she was starting a new year at her school in Fadden Hills. When she arrived, she was shocked to learn that she could read the minds of her friends - Lara, Jenny, and Louise. It turns out that they really all hated her deep down and only put up with her because they felt sorry for her. This year, however, they decided that they no longer wanted to be Will's friends, so they avoided and ignored her. Will returned home crushed, and her mother decides Fadden Hills might not be a good place to live anymore as it holds too many memories. They then decide to move to Heatherfield next year and start their new lives.
Irma was having a really bad morning when she realized that she wasn't attracting the attention of any boys (like Andrew Hornby) except for the inferior species (like Martin Tubbs). Her father cheered her up by saying that she's meteoric and that as soon as the rain outside will stop she'll feel better. Later, Irma decided to follow a trail of water left by the rainstorm in order to determine who her soul mate was. When it split into two, she took one path which led her to Mr. Olsen's pet store where she bought her pet turtle, Leafy. Retracing her steps, she took the path-not-chosen and was shocked to learn that it led straight to Martin.
For Taranee, her parents' job transfer led them to Heatherfield. Although they weren't moving for a year, they still journeyed to the city to pick out a house and get acquainted with the area. Taranee was depressed about moving and didn't want to leave her old home behind. While her parents were looking at a house, Taranee wandered off and found a house of her own. She looked in the window and saw a hypnotic fire dancing in the fireplace. When she asked the real-estate agent about it, he told her that the house was rebuilt after a fire. Because the heating didn't work the house was not for rent. After entering the house it proved to be empty indeed. When Taranee's parents saw her sitting before the fireplace they decided to move into that very house.
Cornelia was having a sleepover at Elyon's house one night and having the time of her life. When she fell asleep, she was awakened by the sound of tree branches banging against the window. She and Elyon went outside and the tree began talking to Cornelia, telling her that she was finally here and that she would find something magical. The tree transformed into a door and Cornelia was about to open it when Elyon's parents woke her up. Cornelia realized that she had been sleepwalking and began to go back upstairs to return to bed. She asked Elyon what was behind the door she was about to open and Elyon told her it was nothing special, only the basement. In the second issue of W.I.T.C.H. (The Twelve Portals) it is revealed that there was a portal in that basement.
Hay Lin's Story
Hay Lin was goofing off in her new year of school when Professor Mitridge assigned her and her classmates a school project of building a kite that would fly in the wind as punishment for disrupting the class. Hay Lin asked her grandmother for advice and she gave her a book on traditional Chinese kites that had been in their family for generations. She spent all night working on it and when she brought it into school, she was disappointed to find that there was no wind to fly their kites. This didn't stop Professor Mitridge from failing her, however, because she figured that the kite was too huge to fly anyway and Hay Lin had just goofed off again with her design. Hay Lin threw the kite on the ground and stormed inside the classroom, crying because of how unfair Professor Mitridge was. A few moments later, Professor Mitridge came in and told her to come outside. When Hay Lin got out of the building, she was amazed to see that hers was the only kite in the class to be soaring in the air.
The final three pages reveal that the five stories were being told by the Heart of Kandrakar a few days before the beginning of the story of the first issue (Halloween). The Heart was only telling its own special moment. The moment in which the Oracle saluted her once again... The moment when the honorable Yan Lin came to get her... The moment when her waiting came to an end and she found a new Keeper... Will.