I had a dream that the king and the queen of a small country had a daughter. They needed a son, a first-born son, so in secret, without telling anyone of their child’s gender, they travelled to the nearby woods that were rumoured to house a witch.
They made a deal with that witch. They wanted a son, and they got one. A son, one made out of clay and wood, flexible enough to grow but sturdy enough to withstand its destined path, enchanted to look like a human child. The witch asked for only one thing, and that was for their daughter.
They left the girl readily.
The witch raised her as her own, and called her Thyme. The princess grew up unknowing of her heritage, grew up calling the witch Mama, and the witch did her very best to earn that title.
She was taught magic, and how to forage in the woods, how to build sturdy wooden structures and how to make the most delicious stews. The girl had a good life, and the witch was pleased.
The girl grew into a woman, and learned more and more powerful magics, grew stronger from hauling wood and stones and animals to cook, grew smarter as the witch taught her more.
She learned to deal with the people in the villages nearby, learned how to brew remedies and medicines and how to treat illness and injury, and learned how to tell when someone was lying.
Every time the pair went into town, the people would remark at just how similar Thyme was to her mother.
(Thyme does not know who and what she is. She does not know that she was born a princess, that she was sold. She only knows that one night after her mother read her a story about princesses and dragons, her mother had asked her if she ever wanted to be a princess.)
((Thyme only knows that she very quickly answered no. She likes being a witch, thank you very much, she likes the power that comes with it and the way that she can look at things and know their true nature.))
The witch starts preparing the ritual early, starts collecting the necessities in the winter so they can be ready by the fall equinox. Her daughter helps, and does not ask what this is for, just knows that it is important.
The witch looks at Thyme, both their hands raised into the air over a complicated array of plants, tended carefully to grow into a circle, and says, sorry.