The maid helped up the not so old witch and calmed her down as she helped dry her tears. The not so old witch admitted that she knew the maid which shocked everyone but that it was only her overwhelming guilt that allowed her to speak the truth.
“It all happened not long after I was cursed. I have no idea how old you were back then but I’m glad your magic is still there.” the not so old witch said.
She began to tell a tale of swans that lived in the lake. It was an important part of history once but over time it became nothing more than a myth and was forgotten. Swans are the most ancient species around and the lake near the witch’s house used to be their home. It must have been maybe a year after she was cursed that it had happened. Swans weren’t just ancient, they were also filled to the brim with magic. They are said to have been around since the kingdom was first founded and maybe longer. They rarely ever spoke or interacted with anyone and if anyone should ever try the swans would fly off or turn invisible. The not so old witch was allowed to live nearby because she helped to heal an injured swan when she was a child.
“What does any of this have to do with her?” the peach king asked.
“You used to be one of those swans before the wizard showed up.” the not so old witch replied.
The witch carried on her story to explain that in the lake lived a pair of swans with a cygnet. She was smaller than the rest and terribly frail but her parents loved her anyway. The cygnet was too young to know when a trap was right in front of her and one day she fell right into one. She was swimming around the edge of the lake when she saw a small pile of berries. She was curious and thought the other swans must have gathered them for a feast so she ate just a few.
In just a matter of hours the cygnet was fighting for her life with her parents distraught and willing to do anything to save her. The not so old witch tried and tried but whatever happened to her was not natural and her potions had no effect. Suddenly, like a miracle the wizard came along pretending to be upset for the young swans life but promising he could save her. The not so old witch pleaded with the swans to not take his offer but they were desperate and the wizard was happy.
He could not save her current form but he could change her into a human. She would no longer be a swan and her family would never see her again but the wizard gave his word to take good care of her. Once again, the witch begged the swans not to take his offer and find any other way but the swans were out of time. They accepted his offer and the wizard, holding true to his word, used his own potions and spells to cure the cygnet and turn her human. The young girl could not remember anything from before this moment and was told the wizard was her family so he took her into the village.
The not so old witch didn’t trust the wizard one bit and did something she never thought she would have to do. Ever since she was a young girl she had been able to commune with the spirits of nature and so she waited for nightfall and asked the spirit of the moon for help. The moon spirit told her that swans are a limitless source of magic but that magic can only be transferred if the swan takes a different form. The witch knew this must have been what the wizard wanted and begged the moon spirit to help. The only thing the spirit could think of that might work was to give up a part of herself.
It was risky and dangerous but if the witch could take the moon’s reflection and use it in a spell on the young girl then the wizard couldn’t hurt her. It was a long night but that was just what happened. The spell was successful and the moon lost its reflection but the girl was safe. After no longer being of use to the wizard however she was thrown out and only just managed to live in the stables in the town. The swans all disappeared from the lake that night and were never seen again and the girl had a hard life until she met the prince that fateful day but the not so old witch never stopped feeling guilty.
“I should have told you when I first saw you again. I’m ever so sorry for the hardships you went through because of me.” the not so old witch said.
“I could never hate you. If it weren’t for you, who knows what the wizard would have done.” the maid replied.
The king knelt down and took the witch’s hand and with a tear in his eye he thanked the witch for saving his heart. He vowed to do whatever it took to rid the kingdom of the wizard and to set things right in the kingdom again. As the maid and the king turned to continue on their journey they were briefly stopped by the witch who had a warning for the maid. If she was ever to come across someone who would call her the midnight swan then she must run. The king took the maid’s hand and promised the witch to keep the maid safe.
This story was written by Emma Amos, a bedtime stories for kids contributor