“Now, now, deary…it’s not that bad, now, is it?”
He sniffled, wiping his arm on his sleeve. The witch didn’t loom, as such. She looked too much like his grandmother for that, with her hair in rollers and a babushka handkerchief pulled tight against the cold. He could sense the glamour rising off her though, in shimmering waves.
“So, you’ve a touch of the gift yourself, lad?” Her voice wavered and cracked as she stared, her eyes watering and milky with floating cataracts behind the spectacles that rode on her crooked nose. “I don’t need to see to see, if you follow me, boy-o. Although maybe I shouldnae have said that, now, should I?”
He refused to meet her eye, he didn’t want her to bewitch him. He stood, trying to regain control of the conversation, trying to impose himself on the room. She clucked her tongue, and turned her back to him, tottering off toward the kitchen. “You’ll not be intimidating me, young fellow-me-lad,” she was muttering to herself as she clanked and clanged through the kitchen, accompanied by the shrill whistle of the kettle. “Now, hows about that cuppa tea, before we do what must be done, eh?”
Inside his pocket were the tools of his trade, the book, the pin, and the fire. She came out of the kitchen, wards lowered and charms up, holding the tea-cup in hand, her familiar dunking the teabag, overly familiar.
He glowered at her – the effect was only a little ruined by the snot still running from his nose and the low ceiling of the witch’s cottage. “I shall bring you into the Kingdom of God, madam,” his voice boomed out, echoing in the rafters.
She shrugged, and waved her fingers, writing invisible pictograms on the air.
Her little familiar shrieked, and dove forward snatching the grasshopper from the pile of stinking leather and cotton.
She’d get some grief from the law, for this one, but they hated the Inquisition almost as much as she. And she’d given the Shire-reeve a son last year, or so he imagined.