Hawthorn, Hazel, Hemlock, and HollyPosted by Sara C. Snider on Apr 9, 2015 in A to Z Challenge, Short Stories | 18 comments
Why use one tree name, when you can use four…
Hawthorn, Hazel, Hemlock, and Holly
Holly twirled a lock of her hair around a finger and sighed. “Well, I don’t see what’s so important about this meeting. They’re just a couple of old, stuffy warlocks. Who would want to be a wife to one of them?”
“You would, if you know what’s good for you,” Hazel said as they walked up the steps of a great stone house. “Hawthorn and Hemlock are well respected, and what you call old, I call powerful.” She took hold of the knocker and gave it three quick raps. “And stop twirling your hair. Only children do that, and you’re a woman grown—best if you start acting like it.”
Holly slumped as she removed her hand from her hair.
The door opened, and a butler in a fine black suit peered at them.
Hazel smoothed her dress and put on a smile. “We are the Witch Hazel sisters—”
“Witch Holly sisters,” Holly muttered.
Hazel’s smile withered. “I’m the eldest, we discussed this.”
“You discussed it, I—”
The butler sighed and said, “Follow me.” He turned and disappeared inside the house.
Glancing at each other, Hazel and Holly then followed.
They walked down a darkened hallway before coming to a door. The butler opened it, and ushered them into a sunlit parlor. As Hazel and Holly stepped inside, their mouths hung open at the sight before them: the room was filled with women. Throngs of females milled about the room, talking amongst each other in smaller groups. The room hushed a moment as the two sisters stepped inside, but then the buzzing of indistinct conversation resumed. Most of the women congregated at one end of the room around an object of attention that neither Hazel nor Holly could see.
Then the crowd parted, and out walked a man wearing a burgundy waistcoat and breeches and bright white stockings. He had wavy, shoulder-length hair, and when he smiled, he showed rows of pearly white teeth.
“Now ladies,” he said, “I cannot possibly choose amongst you. So, to help me decide, we shall have a contest, the prize for which will be… me.” He extended a leg, showing off a shapely calf. The women in the room giggled and twittered.
Hazel frowned. “Ridiculous.”
Holly gasped and ran to join the crowd, elbowing anyone who got in her way.
Hazel’s frown deepened.
“It’s a glamor, you know.”
Hazel turned and found a man standing next to her. A pair of spectacles adorned his plain features, and he had a head of thinning hair that showed more grey than not.
“I beg your pardon?” Hazel said.
“My brother,” he said. “That’s not what he looks like.”
“Your brother? You mean…”
He gave a wry smile. “I’m Hemlock. That’s Hawthorn,” he said, nodding towards the other man.
Hazel’s mouth hung open. “I… I was under the impression that it would be—“
“That it would be just the two of you invited here? Yes, that was Hawthorn’s idea. All of this was Hawthorn’s idea. I wanted nothing to do with it.”
Hemlock shook his head and shrugged. “Who can say? I am not privy to my brother’s motivations. Maybe he just wanted the attention.”
“So the whole story about the two of you looking for wives, it was just a ruse?”
Hemlock scratched his head. “I am sorry you made the trip. I wanted nothing to do with it, as I said. I had planned on secluding myself throughout the spectacle, but I couldn’t resist watching Hawthorn make a fool of himself.”
A series of squeals rippled through the room as Hawthorn’s hair fluttered as if caught in a breeze, and a pair of cream-colored bunnies hopped around his ankles. A tussle broke out amongst a couple of the women, and soon the scuffle turned into a brawl.
Screams and shrieks pierced the air as women clawed and grabbed at each other. Even Holly planted a hand on a woman’s face, pushing her aside as she tried to reach Hawthorn.
“Ladies, please,” Hawthorn said as a wide smile split across his face.
Holly had nearly reached him when another woman grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back.
Hazel thinned her lips. “Right,” she said and pushed up her sleeves. She spoke words of Dissolving, and brought her hands together in a thunderous clap.
Silence settled over the room as everyone turned to look at her. The sunlight streaming through the windows faded, and the young, handsome man that had once been Hawthorn was now old and grey. The women in the room stared at him, and he gave a lopsided grin.
Murmurs rustled around the room as the women began to file out.
“But… the contest!” Hawthorn said.
Hazel shot him a withering glare, and Hawthorn cringed and quieted. She walked up to Holly and grabbed her by the arm. Her younger sister wiped the tears from her cheeks as Hazel pulled her from the room.
“But… he was so beautiful,” Holly said. She looked back at Hawthorn, but then Hazel tugged on her arm and she turned away.
“You were right, Holly. Old, stuffy warlocks, indeed. We’re better off without them.”
“Beautiful…” Holly sniffed.
Hemlock stood in the hallway as they walked out. He smiled and gave them a small bow.
Hazel lifted her chin and returned home with her sister in tow.
(I also wrote about Hazel for W, which you can find here.)