The witch’s assignment to the chancellor’s daughter wasn’t without its controversy. The senate felt it improper to have witchcraft in their presence; the daughter felt it was yet another way for her father to keep an eye on her. Nothing more than a spy. Still, the chancellor felt it important for his heir-apparent to be versed in the ways of the craft. She didn’t possess the spark necessary to perform magic herself, but one day she’d be responsible for maintaining the fragile alliance the republic held with the Sisterhood.
To ease the process, the girl was sent out to the countryside to meet her witch, where she waited with growing impatience for nearly two weeks. She was told the witch was something of an oddity, a young man who had a talent for the craft……but the miss of the manor hadn’t seen anyone of the sort since arriving prior to the daughter’s stay. And so she spent her days pacing the confines of the vacation house, convinced that the witch was doing this intentionally to offend her. To show she was less significant than him. She had half the mind to send him away the moment he finally showed up, to ask for another that showed her proper respect.
At the close of the second week, as she left the small chapel service that the house staff held for themselves, she saw a maid in the distance. Sitting underneath a tree, the young woman was eating an apple and reading a book, seemingly lost to her own world. The daughter walked to her with intent, looking down at the slacking maid with confusion and irritation.
“Why weren’t you at the service?” She demanded.
“I’m not a believer,” the maid looked up with a smile. “You’re the chancellor’s daughter, yeah?”
“It’s 𝘔𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴 or 𝘔𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘮 to you. I ought to call your lady and have you flayed for the disrespect.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time.” The maid took another bite. “I’m afraid the title of Madam goes to my Matriarch, but we’re to be friends, so surely our names will do?”
The daughter blinked for a moment, looking at the maid once more, only now seeing the flickers and flashes behind her eyes. The bottled magicks that revealed a witch no matter the glamour.
“You’re… the witch my father sent for?”
“I know, it’s unexpected. Witches are expected to have a better sense of fashion than this, but I prefer to keep a low profile.” The maid stood, dipping into a low curtsy. “Second order sister of the Northern Covenant at your service. You can call me Sapphire.”
“I… don’t understand.” The daughter blinked, still processing the revelation. “Are you in glamour? My father said that you were…”
“A man?” The witch wiggled his hand. “Depends on who you ask, I suppose. This is my flesh all the same, though I would prefer you use masculine pronouns when referring to me.”
“Does anyone else know you’re here?”
“Oh, yes, the whole house staff knows.”
“And they didn’t tell me??”
“I don’t think you ever asked the correct question.” The witch pantomimed a thought, smiling brightly. “As I recall, when you showed up, you described more of a warlock to the lady of the house than you did a witch.”
“Because I thought that’s what you’d look like! That’s what you lot always look like.”
“Well, maybe this is a valuable learning experience for you. You don’t want to be chancellor one day and not even be able to tell who’s a witch and who’s a warlock.” He smiled still, finally closing the book that had been held open this whole time. “Now, I never got your name, mistress chancellor-to-be.”
“…Luciene. You can call me Luciene.” She sighed, turning to look back to the house. “Can we continue this indoors? The sun’s going blister us both before long.”
“I won’t complain.” The witch took his place at the daughter’s side, the two beginning a slow walk back.
“I also think we need to establish some rules.” She continued. “I want honesty from you, at all times. I want privacy from my father. You’re to tell him nothing but the progress of my education. Can you swear that?”
“I’m a witch, not some chamber spy. Yes, you have my word.”
“Good. I also want you to teach me more than my father requested. I want you to teach me the customs of witches, not just how to negotiate with their emissaries. I want to know about your training, your values. I want to know about the dolls and fae who frequent your covens.”
“I think that’s acceptable.” The witch nodded, looking over at Luciene with a curiosity of his own. “I have to warn you, though, that witches make deals. Your father paid me for his portion; you’ll need to pay for your portion just the same.”
“What’d you ask of me?”
“Memories for my craft. Small fragments, nothing that your mind won’t heal cleanly. Things to give to my dolls, when I return to my manor.”
“I’m… not sure I understand?”
“Then we’ll make this your first lesson.” The witch opened the door, beckoning her in with an ever-deeper smile. “Let me teach you the currency of witches.”
She nodded, the door shutting behind the two as her lessons, finally, began.