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The Good Witch's Bargain

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"Ugggghhh~" said the princess, in her chair. She had silver eyes and short dark hair that lightened to red at the tips.  "I don't wanna get married~"

"But Ruby," said her sister, "You are the heir."

Ruby pouted. "How come you're not the heir, Yang? Why do you get to do what you want?"

"Well I'm your half sister, so my bloodline isn't as pure, since societies decided that THAT matters," said Yang. She put her fists on her hips. "And I'm older than you. So since you turn 16 soon you're going to have to start thinking about marriage."

Ruby flopped over the edge of her chair. "Ugh~"

"It's normal for most nobles to just arraange a marriage." Yang said. 

"But I wanna marry for looovve~" Ruby whined, "Whats the use of being a princess if I don't get to have everything I want, all the time, no matter what?"

"First of all, we're just minor nobles," said Yang, "And second of all, you only have to get married- that's largely a legal thing- and I'm sure most people you'd end up marrying wouldn't mind if you had a mistress. So pick someone who likes to read and can cook for you and just start the wealth conglomeration already."

Ruby sighed. "But I've met all the neighboring heirs my age and they're all horrible...."

Yang shrugged. "Maybe, pick the one you think you can coexist with the most, and spend your free time building weapons or baking cookies." Yang wiggled her eyebrows, "or chasing skirts around the manor~"

"I have no interest in any of our maids, Yang," Ruby said. "And besides, that'd infringe upon your territory."

Yang smirked, "Hey, I gotta find the someone to marry for love somehow, right?" Yang said. She smirked.

Ruby glared.

"Okay, look," Yang said, "Mathematically, if you've dated ten people, and then you find someone who makes you happier than all ten of them, you're more than likely to be able to coexist with that person in a long-term relationship. So like, statistically, there's gotta be someone out there you can be at least not-unhappy with."

Yang pontificated. "And it's something like, 68% of arranged marriages work out, while less than half of 'doki-doki meet cute' relationships do," she said, "Because co-existence is more of a business deal than a whirlwind of breath-taking, life-changing moments. And if you go into it knowing you have to make it work, youre more willing to compromise and junk."

"And besides- if you don't hate someone, you can probably have some good friendship moments with them. So pick one of the merchant heirs you dont hate."

"But it's just so soul-crushing," Ruby said, "Like, this is a big decision, and I feel like I'm presented with only bad options and I need to make a decision before I'm ready." 

 

"Well~~," said Yang. She titled her head to the side and looked at the wall made a smile with half her mouth and shrugged, "If you really don't want to marry someone, you could try to see a witch."

"Ugh, that sounds even worse!" Ruby said.

"You could just give it a try," Yang said. She smirked. "Just cause you're not a princess waiting for a prince's rescue doesn't mean there isn't a witch out there who'll cast a spell to change your destiny." 

 


 


So one night, Ruby dawned a hooded cloak and she stole out of the premises and into the woods, through a overgrown dirt path out of the way of civilization to seek a witch. Or more specifically, a witch's hut.

And after a half-days hike through dark underbrush, Ruby stood before the gnarled wooden door, steeling her nerves, for a good minute before it opened from the inside. 

"Hello~" creaked a woman, hunched over, with a long cloak hiding her face, "I have been expecting you~"

"Yeah, I guess Yang sent someone ahead?" Ruby said. 

The witch waved her arm, beckoning the girl inside. "Yes yes you come seeking help, to avoid an arranged marriage, I see...." 

"Yeah, exactly-" 

"Well, I can help you," stated the witch. She chuckled, wickedly, "if you don't want to marry a noble.... you can just marry me! Mwahahaha~" cackle the witch. She pontificated, theatrically, to the sky. 

Ruby blinked. "Oh. Okay then. Sure." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The witch froze. 

"That- uh, that was actually a joke," said the witch, sheepishly. 

"No no, I think I'm fine with that, "Ruby said. She stepped into the musky hut and took a seat on a giant toadstool. "So, I guess, I'm Ruby Rose, heir to a duchy in east Patch. I like weapon-training and cookies, and I try to be carefree as much as I can. What about you? What's your name?"

The witch paused. "It.... it is unimportant-"

Ruby chuckled. "I think names are going to be pretty important for us." 

The witch glanced down. "I- I was actually just joking, about the whole, you know- I can go over spells with you now-" 

Ruby refreshed her smile. "Can I at least see your face?"

The witch froze, "I-"

"Mystery's all well and good, but I mean," Ruby gestured to her cloak. "I took off my hood-" 

The robed figure paused for a moment, before pulleding her cloak back.

Turned out, the witch was a surprisingly attractive blonde woman- younger than Ruby would have guessed at first blush. Like, she was till middle-age, but she didn't look like some wrinkly baba-yaga type witch.

"You wear glasses," Ruby stated. 

The witch frowned. "Is that a problem?"

"No no- it's just, I didn't know they had, like, optometrists, glassblowers and metalsmiths out here in the woods."

"I go into town, every so often," the witch said, slightly annoyed. 

"And I maybe figured you'd maybe have some magical eyesight fixing thingamajig." 

"Those things are a little risky. Glasses help me fine, and besides," said the witch, "I like how I look in glasses."

"It's a pretty good look, admittedly," Ruby said. "You live alone?"

"I- yes," said the Witch. "Why, did you think I went around collecting brides or something?"

"Not that being part of a harem would be a deal breaker," Ruby said. She smirked, "But I actually wanted to know if you had maybe a cat or raven. I'm a dog person myself, but I'm only allergic to bees." 

"Ah- I'm, I'm less of a dog person, admittedly," said the witch.

Ruby chuckled. "Well, maybe you'd like my puppy. He's pretty cute." 

"I- suppose that is a possibility-," said the witch, a little listlessly. 

Ruby smiled. She sniffed, audiably. "So I can't help but notice that you're baking somehing?"

"Ah, yes, " cooed the witch, "They are enchanted cookies, however."

Ruby tilted her head. "Can I have one?"

"I- well, a few of these aren't enchanted, since they're the decoys-" said the Witch, "So sure, they're about done anyway- I'll bring them out...." 

 


 

 

A few minutes later, the Witch returned from her kitchen with a plate of cookies. She placed them  on a coffee table, between  her and her visitor. 

 

At the witch's behest, Ruby took one of the offered cookies, stuffing it into her mouth. It was delicious. 

"I have some friends who build their entire hut out of candy," said the witch, "And there's benefits and downsides to confectionery based architecture- anyway," said the witch, "Would you like to go over the kinds of spells I might cast for you-" 

Ruby swallowed her bite, just enough to enunciate half-way decently. "My mom used to bake me cookies," Ruby said, suddenly, randomly. 

The witch blinked. "Oh?"

"Yeah, before she died, when I was young," Ruby said, quietly, to the ground. "It was the defining moment of my childhood. I miss her every day."

"I- I'm sorry to hear that," said the witch. she dropped her voice affect. "I- I can't bring back the dead, though-" 

"I know," Ruby made a smile, "i just, sometimes i wonder what my life would have been, if I'd had her growing up. Like, what kind of person would I have ended up being?"

The witch didn't respond to that. Ruby didn't blame her. 

"And, obviously, since it happened so long ago and it changed so much about me that I'd be a completely different person if she hadn't died, so that's sort of wondering what I'd be like if I were completely different- but sometimes I can't help thinking about it, you know? I wonder if I would have turned out a little less lonely...." 

Ruby let her barred emotions hang in the air, for a minute.

The Witch cleared her throat. 

"I- I'm no stranger to loneliness, " said the Witch, "And sometimes it's crushing. I'll find myself going through the motions of survival but I'll just do the bare minimum- I won't eat, I'll just lie around, wasting time, doing nothing, not trying to accomplish any of my life goals or anything...." 

The witch sighed. 

"That sucks," Ruby said, "I'm sorry that happens." 

The witch smiled, with the corner of her mouth. "Thank you." 

"So then, what are your life goals?" Ruby asked.

The witch was taken aback, "I - ah- that's.... a little personal...." 

"Well, if we're going to be together, it'd be good to know them, to see if they're compatible with my life goal of messing around and maybe hunting monsters sometimes." 

The witch pondered for a moment, adjusting her glasses in a way Ruby figured she could get used to looking at. 

"I guess, I'd like to be immortal," said the witch. 

"Ah! An ancient and noble endeavor," Ruby said. "I might be able to help with that, maybe." 

The witch blinked. "Wait, really?

"Well, a merchant heiress's connections are wide," Ruby said, "Though I guess maybe you've got your own secret magic network going on?"

"If only," chuckled the witch. "But that's- hmmmm. I'll have to think about that." 

Ruby stretched her back. "So now that we've shared our deep personal secrets, it'd be silly to withhold something as basic as your name," Ruby said. 

"Ah, your ulterior motive. How conniving," said the Witch. She inhaled and exhaled.

"Well, I did want to know more about you, too," Ruby said. 

The witch chuckled, and then grew silent. 

After a moment the witch spoke. "You can call me Glynda."

"Glynda!" Ruby said. "That's a nice name."

Glynda smiled with the corner of her mouth. "Thank you." 

"Alright Glynda" Ruby stood up. She stretched her back. "I admit I had my misgivings at first, but I guess Yang was right- you were the right person to see." 

Ruby held out a hand. "I accept your proposal." 

The witch was still, for a good minute.

Ruby kept out her hand, and she refreshed her smile.

"You know what?" said Glynda. She took Ruby's hand. "Let's do it."