Seven hundred years was a long time.
She had seen families grow up, old, and apart. She'd had her own family torn apart. She had seen countries rise and fall. When it was time, she had left her native France, left her garden and the memories of her mother, to journey to the "New World" she had heard so many rumors about. There, she'd watched colonies grow, come together to form a nation. She had watched as people who were there long before she and hers had arrived were run out of their homes. She had walked with the leaders of the Natives and aided them in burying their dead. When all the Natives were gone, she had moved once again, this time to a city that was just starting.
As the years passed, she and her home never changed. Though cabins turned to apartments and apartments into skyscrapers, her little cottage had not budged. Oh, she had changed its outer appearance to blend in with the bustling city, but the inside was still as snug and warm as the house she grew up in.
In seven hundred years, she had seen it all. In seven hundred years, she had started to reconnect with nature. Her abilities had starting to return to her right around the turn of the sixteenth century, about three hundred years after the events of the Baker and his kingdom, and since then they had grown strong. All it had taken was some time away from the cursed land and a moment with a people who knew Nature and all her power just as well as she did.
Modern-day New York was much more welcoming to her kind than any other time period was. Here, she could pass herself off as a seller of trinkets, of nifty knick-knacks. At first, she had been a teacher in a middle school; a drama teacher. But one could only spend so many years in one environment before people started to notice that she was not aging. So she went back to her cottage home in New York and started a magic shop. She sold herbs and potions; knick knacks and jewelry. She had everything from "pretties" to items she had actually bothered to place a spell on.
People here seemed to like the "New Age," or whatever they were calling it nowadays. They wanted to believe in magic, even though it seemed to be forbidden by most of their religions. They wanted a little taste of the power that nature could hold without abandoning the only chance to eternal life they would ever get. It would have been funny, if she had not sensed true magic lurking in a handful of those who came and left. Such talent was as wasted now as it had been back in the Old World, in old times. It was a shame, truly, but the Witch wasn't about to try to convert anyone. Not just because magic was something you had to find yourself, but also because then they would be her responsibility.
She had more than enough responsibility nowadays to bother with trying to teach some ungrateful child how to tune into their abilities. She had a magic shop to run, a garden to tend to, and a constant glamour spell to keep up. There was no room for humans, aside from the money that they put in her pocket. Not that she needed the spare change. The Witch had no bills to pay, as the land was long since paid off, and there was a bank account in her name that had been building up interest since the early eighteenth century. The shop was just there to keep her busy and keep her magic in tune.
The clock struck six PM on one July 16th, and with a snap of her fingers, the Witch locked the front door. The sign flipped from open to close. The blinds all rolled down, to hide the trinkets from the outside world. The candles flickered out, leaving their smoke and scent of vanilla and green apples to waft around the room. After checking through the cash register, noting with a smile that she had earned a few hundred dollars, the Witch took what money she had earned and headed into the back of the shop.
There, the walls changed from plaster painted a gentle blue to walls of logs. The floor beneath her feet was no longer the fake tile that so many shop owners preferred, but boards of wood sanded not by machine, but by the constant clicking of heels up and down the hallway. She had tried to keep the cottage as much like a cottage as she possibly could, although the Witch would not deny that the additions of electricity and other useful appliances had certainly been wise.
She placed the money in the nightstand beside her bed then drifted into the kitchen. She needed some tea; tea and, perhaps, a moment or two to work into the garden. While most would have considered such a task a horrid chore, working in the garden, among her plants, was what calmed the Witch the most. Every witch had something they were connected to, something they were able to do better than anything else. Some could see the future, like her mother, while others were good with magical creatures. For the Witch, her specialty rested with plants and the qualities they possessed. Nature had always been more of a mother to her than her real mother had, she supposed.
She decided on lavender tea. The scent alone was something she needed, but lavender also had properties that would calm her muscles, get her to relax. That was always nice after a long day of working with humans, especially when they all seemed to ask the exact same questions. Was it her fault their knowledge of magic was limited? No? Then why was she the one who had to suffer through it?
She decided to roam her garden while she had her tea, just to look through and see what needed to be done. She knew she would have to weed the flowerbeds. That had to be done at least once a week. The peppers would probably need picking. There might be a few apples she could take, make a sweet pie from them. It had been a while since she'd had something sweet to eat. That would be a treat to herself for getting through this long week. Perhaps, if she was lucky, there would be a handful of peaches ready. They were always nice to sell in her shop. Not to mention how long it had been since she'd had a good peach tea.
Her eyes roamed over the flowerbeds, and she noted with satisfaction that she had been right. They would need weeding. The next thing she looked at was the trees. Yes, both the apple and peach trees had a couple fruits she could pick. The oranges looked ready, too. Her lips curved into a smile; her garden was displaying its love for her now, just as she had poured her love into it all these years. She moved over to the bushes and noted, with a frown, that the blackberries were not ready.
That was odd. The blackberries usually had a fresh batch ready for her every two weeks or so. The blooms were often plentiful. With one hand, the Witch lifted a branch, glanced it over. Upon seeing a smear of purple juice, she dropped it, as if it had burned her. The tea sloshed in her cup, nearly spilling.
Someone had already picked the berries. Not only picked, if the juice smeared on the wood was any indication, but also devoured. Her lips twitched. It was the Baker's father all over again. Someone had snuck into her garden and
There was a whisper through the trees, a hint from the plants she loved so dear. The Witch snapped her fingers, the teacup disappearing from her grip, and lifted up her dress to follow the tip. She moved from the blackberries to the blueberries. Glancing down, she noted how the dirt around the base of the bush was smooth, compacted, as though someone had crawled on their belly to get the plants. She bristled in anger, the tips of her hair lifting slightly. She could hear all her precious plants whispering, telling on the newcomer.
But before she could find the trespasser and confront him or her, the bush rustled. The sound of light breathing reached her ears, and then a soft grunt. She saw a flash of golden hair, and then a quiet voice spoke up, from beneath the leaves and branches.