She swung it ’round again, hobbled to the doorway. Subtly she shifted her weight. Grip the staff higher, straighten your back. The cold brass of the doorknob stung her hand as she turned it; she pointed back over her shoulder and the room shuffled, rearranged itself behind her. The stuffed, mouldy crocodile snapped its jaws lazily and her cat hurrumphed, the spheres that hovered near the ceiling swirled into their proper arrangement and the acrid bite of chemistry overpowered the smell of burning herbs. The fire quietened – people like to think a wizard can’t care for himself, but a witch’s warren needs to be homey.
People see what they want to see, the wizard thought to himself, as the last tendrils of magic stroked his face and finished the transformation. People let their prejudices overwhelm them, and they let that prejudice change their worlds.
The heavy wood groaned as she dragged it across the flagstones and barked gruffly into the twirling flakes of snow. His door always warned him of who approached – an old woman, her rhuemetism aching; a farmer, needing help birthing a calf. A princeling, seeking a curse against his rival or a curse against his father. The art was knowing how to change, how to react.
The woman at the door apologised for disturbing him. She hurriedly backed away. The art was knowing what people wanted, witch or wizard, potions or lotions, spells or devices. And then making sure she seemed the exact opposite. That way she could get back to what she loved.
She settled back down in her easy chair, and the crocodile waddled over. She leant over and scratched behind its scutes, and had a conversation with the voices in her head. They were the only ones who were sane, or at least worth talking to.