I don't own these characters or profit from them. They all belong to Terry Pratchett.
By, Clayton Overstreet
Up at the hub of the world a chunk of ice the size of a mountain broke away from Cori Celesti. It was vaguely human shaped with coal black eyes. It looked up towards the peaks where it's ancient enemies lived and where its cohorts were imprisoned. But with a shrug it turned and headed down the side of the mountain. "Keep the lawn mower." And like a living glacier the Ice Giant headed down towards the Discworld.
Sam Vimes walked through the door of Ankh-Morpork's newest and currently most popular club. A frown on his face he made his way over to the table where people were waiting for him. One was the Patrician, the next was Moist Von Lipwig, and the third was Harry King. They all nodded as he sat down in the one empty chair.
A waitress who could not have been more than fifteen in a maid outfit came up and asked what he would like to drink. "Fruit juice." She nodded and walked off. She had a tail and a pair of furry gray cat ears sticking up out of her hair. The story was that their mother had been at a party in Genua and met a man in a cat mask whom she spent an incredible fifteen minutes with. Nine months later she gave birth to six identical girls, all with the same cat ears and tail. Three of them had opened up the Kitty Cat Club.
Vimes pulled out a deck of cards and started to deal. This was a mere preliminary. Ever man at the table had enough cards stuffed into his clothes to run their own casino. This was actually a meeting about running the city and each hand had a different meaning known only to their little group. This was where the real decisions in the city were made. At least those that needed to be made by utter bastards.
Vimes reflected that it was strange that he would be in this particular group. At one time he had lived in the gutter, too poor to even joint he beggar's guild Now he was the richest land owner in the city and was at a table with its ruler, it's most lucrative business man, and the head of the merchant's guild and a former thief.
"You don't look happy," Harry King said.
Vimes grunted. "It's nothing." He rearranged his cards into a specific order.
"I believe our dear Mr. Vimes is referring to an incident at the Hunter's Club."
Vimes looked up at Vetinari. "You know about that?" Then he sighed. Of course he did.
So as they played, men who could afford to build dozens of palaces only betting pennies at a time, he told them about what had happened. Vimes had been contacted about an incident at a place he apparently owned in the Shades. He had responded immediately even though most of the time police officers weren't encouraged to even walk by that particular area of the city.
"The whole place is run by bloody vampires," Vimes growled.
Harry King shrugged. "They aren't such a big deal these days."
"These weren't black ribboners," Vimes muttered.
The Hunting Club was a place that was apparently leased from his wife's family several centuries before and was wear vampires of the old school went to relax. It was also packed with humans, pale people who dressed in black and sat around just waiting for the vampires to take a bite out of them. No mind control needed. They were volunteers, many hoping for the chance to become a vampire and others there just because they liked it.
"Weird," Moist said laying down five cents. "But I've heard of that sort of thing."
The waitress came back with Vimes' drink and he nodded a thank you to her. As she walked away he glanced at her body and reflected that if he was fifteen years younger he would still have been too old for her and she was far better looking than any woman he had ever dated. Not that Sybil wasn't beautiful in her own way, he mentally added. But a man could dream.
Harry shrugged. "I haven't met that many vampires, but I hear they are a bit… tense."
"Those are the black ribboners. Up until lately I'd never met a vampire that wasn't off of human blood," Vimes said. "Not even Dragon King of Arms. These were totally different."
"How?" Moist asked.
"They weren't wound at tightly. Vampires in the Temperance League always struck me as being similar to recovering alcoholics. Like they could snap at any moment. But these… it was like being in a cage with well fed lions. One of my officers even cut his hand and the nearest vampire offered him a handkerchief. He just looked bored." A black ribboner would have had to go sit by himself in a room and have a quiet sing-song to avoid attacking the bleeder.
"I hope Colon is alright," Vetinari said. Vimes didn't even ask how he knew which officer it had been. You could have seen it coming.
"He'll be fine."
"So what did they need you for?"
"Apparently a vampire hunter tried to burn the place down," Vimes said. You could tell by his voice that he didn't think it was a bad idea. "So as the commander of the watch and the building's rightful owner they called me to take him into custody."
"Ouch," Harry King said. Everyone knew how much Vimes hated vampires. He laid down a hand with four aces. Vetinari put down one with three kings and a pair of twos. As a result Harry King got a contract for cleaning out the magical refuse from the Unseen University.
Vimes laid down his cards, five aces, all spades. It was a warning on what would happen to Mr. King should he cut any corners. "Tell me about it. The weirdest part was that the manager of the place looked to be about ten years old, but all the same Sally was bowing and scraping and calling him lord."
"Ah yes," Vetinari said. "That would be King Darkheart Von Uberwald. He used to rule the old evil empire."
"So he was named after his old kingdom huh?" Moist asked.
"Actually I believe Uberwald was named after him," Vetinari said. The other three stared at him.
Moist said, "But Uberwald has been called that for thousands of…" He stopped. "Yikes."
"The worst part," Vimes said. "Was that if I didn't know the bastards were vampires, I could almost like them." It was true. Unlike the black ribboners these vampires hadn't had that half starved look in their eyes, like a too friendly dog that nobody had fed in a week trying to decide whether to lick your hand or eat it.
"Why do you hate them so much anyway?" Harry King asked.
"They eat people," Vimes growled.
"So do trolls… well parts of people. Dwarves will kill humans. You've got a zombie and a werewolf on staff. Heck, humans kill people all the time."
"I don't like them much either." He snapped. Then sighed. "If you must know when I was younger I… had a thing with a vampire." He glanced at Vetinari who kept his own eyes on his cards. "I mean, everyone wants to be a vampire when they're young, right?" The other men all nodded. Immortality, superhuman powers… everything a young man could want.
"What happened?" Moist asked.
"She… tried… to… eat… me!" Vimes said slowly as if talking to an idiot. "I had to take her out with a table leg. Plus she turned me into a drunk. You know how it goes. You hang out with them and they're sipping blood so you sip wine, trying to keep up."
"Indeed," Vetinari said. "On another topic, several of my people have reported seeing Captain Carrot in a jewelry store… in his own time."
Vimes collected the cards and reshuffled. All of them men at the table looked very serious. He passed out the cards and each man, to his certain knowledge, got an ace of spades. Just a brief warning that any open aggression against Carrot would be seen as aggression against the watch itself.
Vetinari nodded as he picked up his cards. He said, "This could be an important moment."
Harry King nodded. "I have to agree."
Moist said, "Why?" The other three looked at him.
Vimes sighed. "You must be the only person in town that doesn't know this, so I'll tell you straight. We all know Carrot is probably the last living descendant of the Ankh-Morpork royal family."
"Oh that," Moist said. "Come on, everyone knows that. He just likes being a watchman."
Vimes rolled his eyes. "Well the thing is, if he's buying a wedding ring…"
"A young man's head turns to security and the stability of his family once he gets married. He might start thinking that perhaps he could more easily support a family in a large castle," Harry King said.
Moist nodded and glanced at Vetinari. "I see the problem."
"And of course the real problem is for each of us," Vetinari said.
"Us?" Vimes asked. "Look I don't like Kings at the best of times but…"
"Has it occurred to you Vimes, that all four of the people at this table have a stake in this? I am the current ruler of the city. You are this city's largest land owner and the Duke. Mr. King here is the owner and operator of most of the businesses not actively owned by the guilds. Moist here is the head of the merchant's guild and a very popular among the people. Any one of us could be said to be contenders to the throne. Or the Oblong Office."
Vimes glared at them. "I have no intention of being king or Patrician."
"Don't look at me," Moist said. "I have enough problems. Besides, I shudder to think what Spike would do if she were queen."
"I can think of worse rulers than golems," Vimes said.
I'm not going to even try," Harry King said firmly. "I can't even imagine myself in the palace for anything but business."
"Can you imagine Carrot there?" Vimes asked. They all paused to consider.
"Not… exactly…" Moist said. "Not on the gold throne and everything."
"Definitely not in the Patrician's chair," Harry added.
Vetinari said, "Perhaps in an open forest in a crown of thorns and a cape made of moss?"
"I could see that," Both men said.
Vimes asked, "Okay I give up. What is it with people?" They all turned to look at him. "I can see it happening all the time, but what exactly is it about that boy that makes everyone want to bow down and stick a crown on his head? I thought maybe it was stories or something, but even people from Klatch get that way. Heck, other kings do it." Not, he admitted, Diamond the troll king. But the dwarves did. "It can't be genetic or magic because some of the kings in this city were complete bastards."
"Indeed," Vetinari said. "It is hard to put a finger on, isn't it?"
King shook his head. "Not at all. You boys ever breed dogs?"
"My family does," Moist said.
"Well when you breed dogs you do it for certain traits. The dogs I use to guard my places are bred for real viciousness. But every now and then you get a bad pup or a litter because of the inbreeding. Or you get a throw back, something more wolf than dog."
"And with this king thing," Moist added. "you've got magic and destiny mixed in. Add that to his mighty deeds and everyone just wants to follow him."
Vimes wanted to argue. But he had seen most of it himself. Carrot, with some help, had arrested a dragon. Stopped the gonne. Arrested all kinds of criminals. He'd crossed mountains to held save Angua and fought werewolves. Destiny, Fate, and Luck all bent over backwards and spread their legs for the boy.
Finally he said, "I can think of at least one problem with the idea."
"And what would that be?"
"The boy is a sponge. He's like those birds you hear about. When falconers use a chicken to hatch an egg and they don't take the chicken away " They all nodded. First Carrot was raised by dwarves and thought he was one. Little things like being six feet tall, not having a beard, and hitting puberty at twelve instead of thirty went right over his head. Which was pretty hard since he kept banging it on the ceiling. And he believed everything they said so much that when he got to the city he had been shocked at how dwarves behaved when they got away from the mountains.
The he had been told he was human and had immediately set out to be the best he could. And the only example had been a man from a whole family of watchmen who told Carrot all kinds of old stories. And Carrot had become a copper, following the law to the letter and turning the watch upside down.
Then he had met the Patrician and Vimes, a pair of what could only be called 'utter bastards' and suddenly behind the friendly looks and dwarf manners he had developed a cold and calculating core. Like an iron bar hidden up his sleeve. You never would know it was there until he suddenly needed to hit someone over the head with it.
"I'd hate to think what he would be like at the palace," Vimes said. "With those old Patricians and Kings staring down at him from the walls."
"You have a point," Vetinari said. If Carrot had been sent to the Thieve's Guild he would have stolen the moon (which technically he had). If he had been sent to the Assassins he probably would have killed entire cities. If he became a Fool he might even have been funny. As a beggar… he probably would have been made king anyway when someone handed over the kingdom to him. "But I am getting old and the last few people chosen to lead this city were not very satisfactory. The dragon was the best of the lot."
Harry said, "There are plenty of other nobles around. But nobody would accept them. Most are either vampires or just not… as good as Carrot. No offense Sam." He paused. "How is your son anyway?"
"Fine," Vimes said. "He seems to be enjoying that school you recommended. I don't generally like the idea of another noble teaching my kid, but that Miss Susan does a fine job."
"Maybe we could ask the priests," Moist said. "Isn't there supposed to be some sort of sign?"
"You mean besides the birth mark, the ancient sword, and the pile of paperwork every damned guild and society in the city 'secretly' has?" Vimes asked.
"Yes. A direct sign that they want Carrot to be king and not live in the castle."
"Should we arrange one?" Vetinari asked.
Suddenly the glasses on the table rattled. There was a huge thump. Moist asked, "Did it just get really cold or is it just me?" And then there was a huge crash from outside.
Dropping enough cards to build houses for all the poor in the city the four men hurried to the door. Vetinari was the last to arrive, having left his cane at the table. Over the heads of the other customers he saw a huge wall of ice rising up from where the castle had been. And then the wall rose up and another one fell just outside the city. Where the first one had been all that was left of the castle was a hole, a few towers including the one Leonard of Quirm called him, the statue of old Stoneface Vimes, and the gardens. The sky was full of mist.
The second wall vanished and another one appeared even further away. Now it was far enough away that they could see the cause. A frost giant was walking past. Mist came off his body in waves, obscuring everything.
Vimes reached around and slapped Moist upside the head. "You and your fat mouth!"
Tiffany was on her way home from visiting with some of the other witches in the area. She was going slow and taking a long way around the mountain because despite her experience she still was afraid of heights. It was almost sundown and she hated flying home in the dark even more though, so she was going a bit faster than normal. Then she flew over a small cottage and noticed a woman step out, a big black pointy hat on her head. "Never noticed her before." Steering carefully she swerved to land nearby.
The woman smiled when she saw Tiffany land. She was very beautiful with flowing red hair and a tight black dress that Nanny Ogg would have thought was too revealing. She spoke in a low purring voice and said, "Well this is a surprise."
"Hello," Tiffany said politely.
The woman walked forward, her hips moving from side to side. Tiffany would never admit it, but she wished she could look that beautiful. She had not seen anyone that pretty since the queen of the elves. "Hello. And what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"I was just on my way home and saw you. I thought I would swing by and say hello." She paused. "Would you rather I leave?"
"Oh no. in fact why don't you come in for some tea?" Tiffany nodded and followed the lady into the cottage.
It was a nice place. Outside there was a small pond with some frogs in it. Unlike Nanny's place there was no gnome statue. There was also a garden she saw around the side of the house with various vegetables.
Inside it was very nice. Everything had black satin coverings and there was a large silver mirror on one wall. It struck Tiffany as odd. Most witch cottages were sparse at best. The best one she had ever seen was Nanny's and that was because she had an army of family to keep it up. Granny Weatherwax for example had an actual tree growing through her house and in the winter it was cold enough to freeze spit, if Granny was the type to spit.
The woman said, "My name is Mistress Lillian. And you are?"
"Oh," Tiffany said. "I'm sorry. I'm Tiffany Aching."
The woman grinned, showing off pearly white teeth. "From the Chalk right?"
"Yes." Tiffany said.
Lillian motioned to a chain. "Please sit." Tiffany looked at it nervously. "Don't worry. It won't get dirty."
Tiffany sat down. "Would you like help with the tea?"
"Not at all," Lillian said. She snapped her fingers and suddenly a silver tea service appeared in her hands. Tiffany blinked. "One lump or two?"
"Uh, one please," she said. Lillian poured the tea and gave her a cup. Then she took another for herself and sat down in the chair opposite her, setting the tray on a nearby table.
"Is something wrong?"
"No, it's just… this place is fantastic. I've never been to a witch's cottage with so much…" She waved a hand around.
Lillian laughed. "Oh it' not much. I'm quite well off. I just like to live simply." She tilted her head. "What do you do for a living?"
"Oh, I run a dairy. I'm very good with cheese."
"I'll have to try some. How much to have a bit delivered?"
"Oh, just a small coin…" She gulped because pulling a drawer out of one of the tables she held up a large gold coin. It looked about the same size as one of the one's from the Feegle's mounds. "That would buy enough cheese for a year."
Lillian tossed it to her and she caught it. "The consider me a customer." There came a knock at the door. "Excuse me." She set her tea down and went to the door.
There was a middle aged man standing there, politely holding his hat in his hands. He smiled nervously at Lillian and asked, "Excuse me Mistress, but…"
"Mr. Turnspeed, so glad to see you. Your package is right here." She picked up a small bad next to the door and held it out. To Tiffany's shock he reached into his pocket and held up a silver coin. Lillian took it and pocketed it before handing the bag over. "Now remember, it'll only take effect if you put it in his shoes."
"Yes ma'am," he bowed to her and then turned and scurried away.
Lillian laughed and closed the door. "Ah, I love my work." She saw Tiffany staring at her. "Yes?"
"You just got paid… in money…" A witch never took actual money for her services. Or asked for any payment. Of course people often felt they owed her things. But you never asked. Witches had all sorts of ways of not asking.
"Oh I see, you're a good witch!" Lillian laughed again. "That's so sweet."
"You… you're not?" Tiffany asked.
"No dear. I'm more, the minority that gives the rest of you a bad name." She took her seat again. "Oh I do more good than harm, but it's not like the way your lot does things. I'm more into… examples to others." Tiffany clearly did not understand. "For instance, you saw the frogs in the pond outside?"
Tiffany gasped. "You're kidding?"
"My policy is if someone is rude to a witch they deserve what they get. And in their case they got turned into amphibians."
"But not really…" Tiffany looked at the serene smile on the woman's face and realized she was completely serious. "But how could you?"
"Oh it's quite simple. You see you just twist your fingers like this and…"
"I know how to do it," Tiffany interrupted, trying not to remember the time the Hiver had used her body to do it to someone. "I mean how can you? It's so horrible. Especially the… the left overs."
"Oh that," Lillian said dismissively. "I usually just turn it into potion ingredients. I mean you've got all that extra mass…"
"So you're saying you're a real wicked witch." Tiffany wanted to be clear on this.
"Right. I've been operating in this area for hundred and seventy years…" She waved at her young body.
Tiffany goggled. "You're kidding? I didn't think magic could do that sort of thing. At least not without a price."
"You mean cackling?" Lillian asked playfully. "Don't worry, I'm fine. Always have been. I'm not about to go Black Aliss on everyone." She leaned back and said, "You see, something they don't mention when they're training good witches is that while there is indeed a price for magic, there is no actual rule that says you're the one who has to pay it."
Tiffany set her tea down. "I don't understand."
"I'm an evil witch and I don't turn everyone into a frog. You know all those uses for magic that other people don't do? Making yourself younger. Placing curses on people. Creating real love spells. I do it all. And I get away with it because I am completely incorruptible."
Tiffany tended to listen to what people meant along with what they said. "You don't mean you're too good to be corrupted, do you?"
"No. It's more that I'm too evil. It's like dumping a cup of water into a river really." She saw Tiffany's look and added, "Oh don't worry. I'm not insane. I don' plan on killing you or any of the other witches. In fact that's why I stay out here away from your territories." She sighed. "It's just too bad. None of the other witches seem to like me much."
"Well…" Tiffany said. She knew a lot of witches. A lot of them weren't nice, but evil was not something they would usually put up with.
"It's not as bad as all that. I take care to make sure that my curses always backfire on the person who buys them." She laughed. "For example, Mr. Turnspeed right now wanted to cast a spell on his competitor in love, who has been wooing his girl with his dancing. So I gave him a powder that will make the man dance without stopping for three days straight." She leaned forward, "But it will also make him follow Turnspeed around uncontrollably and dance all over him at every chance."
"But they could get hurt!"
"Yes, but I think that Turnspeed will learn a lesson, don't you? If he survives. And if not the other people in town certainly will."
"Thank you," Lillian said, as if this was a compliment. "Would you like to see something interesting?"
Tiffany wanted to say no, but she couldn't quite squash her curiosity. It was strange. On the one hand she knew that what Lillian was doing was wrong. But she had imagined doing some of the same things. Especially to people who were rude, inconsiderate, or mean. "You don't… you know… hate good witches do you?"
"Not at all. You do important work and if I get sick I shall certainly patronize the nearest witch." Lillian led her over to the silver mirror. "It's just I feel there's an element of balance in the world. And if that balance happens to allow me to do as I wish in a nice house with a lot of money then that is just a bonus. Now look at the mirror."
Tiffany did. Her reflection looked back. "What am I looking for?"
"This mirror reveals desires and dreams. It helps out when I'm trying to figure out how to rip off my customers…"
"If you do that then wouldn't people stop coming?"
"Are you kidding?" Lillian asked. "I had to take down the 'Stay away, wicked witch' sign outside the woods. People kept showing up and I never got a good night's sleep."
Tiffany nodded. She knew people. Granny had once told her about a vampire's castle in Uberwald that had to turn people away at the door every night. Before she could say anything though she noticed her reflection start to change. Slowly the Tiffany in the mirror shifted shape. "Oh my…"
"Ah, there we go," Lillian said.
In the mirror Tiffany took on several different forms. One of them was herself looking plump but happy, holding a baby. Roland stood behind her looking proud. Jenny, the Feegle's kelda stood on her shoulder holding her own tiny babies. Then that faded and she was little girl sitting on her grandmother's knee. That too vanished and now Tiffany stood there, her skin as white as snow, her lips dark blue. A crown of ice glittered like diamonds on her head. Behind her stood a handsome man with purple-gray eyes and around them swirled snow and ice. Then there was another version of herself, this time not as an ice goddess but as a glowing healthy one with flowers sprouting from her feet as the world grew and turned at her command.
Tiffany turned away, tears in her eyes. She felt like she had been stripped open to her core and did not want to see any more. "I don't…"
"You do," Lillian said. "But have heart. As it goes on the mirror always gets to your darker desires. Things you'll never admit to even thinking about, let alone wanting. Usually. It works differently on different people. Watch…" She moved Tiffany to the side and stood in front of the mirror.
Tiffany looked up at Lillian's reflection. First there was Lillian, a giant goddess who stood on nothing in a sea of stars. In her hand was a giant turtle. On that turtle's back were four elephants and a wide blue disc. Lillian's hands closed around the world and she laughed. Then it shifted and Lillian was in a pile of men and women. Tiffany did not look away even though they were all naked. She blushed furiously, but had spent several months at Nanny Ogg's place. Then it shifted again and it showed Lillian holding a kitten and cuddling with it playfully.
Lillian stepped away from the mirror quickly at that point. She glanced at Tiffany and said, "Sorry you had to see that."
"I… I need to get home," Tiffany said nervously. She suddenly felt like she was in an animal's den. Or maybe like she had tripped over a sleeping bear.
Lillian nodded. "I understand." She shook her head. "It's so hard for me to make friends. Of course that could be due to the evil, murders, and frankly nasty things I do to people for my own entertainment." Tiffany turned and ran outside. "Goodbye!"
"Bye," Tiffany called as she raced out.
Tiffany told Granny about Lillian. Granny sniffed. "Never did like that woman. Mostly because she shares a name with my sister."
"You have a sister?"
"Did. She was a fairy godmother. Tried to make the world a better place for everyone." Granny said. "I'd have rather dealt with this wicked witch of yours."
"Right. Evil people, the real ones, don't want to destroy the world. They want to control it. But a good person who wants to fix everything for everyone else will happily watch the world burn if they think it'll make it better."
"But how could anyone choose to be evil like that? I could tell she knew exactly what she was doing. It wasn't like she thought she was really helping people."
"Right. Well I don't let that sort of thing go on in these parts," Granny said. "But you can't make everyone be nice. And that lady has her points. I heard tell of a town out near Slice. Lillian was out there in disguise as a fortune teller who granted wishes."
"They got them. A man wished for the fastest horse in the world. Lost a perfectly good saddle when the thing took off on him. Another man asked to be able to turn things into gold. Lost his whole family before he starved to death. A lady wished to be beautiful forever and was turned into a painting."
"Yes and it ain't how I'd have done it. But I got to admit, people out that way are a lot more careful with wishes these days and are much kinder to strangers." She paused and Tiffany noticed a slight grin on Granny's face. "There's something you ain't telling me."
"Maybe…" Tiffany blushed.
Using her ability to apparently read Tiffany's mind she said, "She showed you what ye could have been, right?"
"If I weren't… me. If I'd made other choices. Or choices yet to come. She just showed me things I…"
"Things ye wanted. Whether they was right or not." Granny sighed and looked at the fire "I had a moment like that a while back. When I was fighting the Queen myself." She shook her head. "Saw through worlds in them trousers of time the wizards talk about. Saw myself as a happy mother and wife. Or when I killed my husband or when I was an evil witch. Me in a thousand different ways it could have gone if I had let it."
"It scared me," Tiffany said.
"That's good," Granny said. "You're a witch girl. You have power. Lillian there is an example of what a witch can be if she don't watch herself every minute. Out there alone on her mountain."
"She didn't seem too unhappy."
"And likely she wasn't. But she ain't right either, is she?"
Tiffany thought about it. Beautiful, rich, and happy. But Lillian was alone. Not that she minded apparently. Plus she brought misery to other people and laughed about it. She was not a good person. And that was odd, because even the worst people Tiffany had ever met who did bad things like kill or beat their children or rape, they did not seem to know what they did was wrong. Lillian did and reveled in every moment of that.
"I don't understand how she can be that way?"
"I can," Granny said. "And to tell the truth so do you. You know how easy it would be."
Tiffany balked. "But I could never…"
'Nah, you couldn't. But she could. And long as she minds her own business I always said I'd leave her be. She watches herself in her way, just like we do."
"You have a point," Tiffany said. Lillian was nasty, evil, and cruel. But she knew herself to be that way. And she knew that the rest of the world was against her. So she sat up on her mountain alone and let people come to her. It was their choice. And Tiffany could even see the attraction to it, just like Granny said.
Granny sighed. "Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like, to be able to do the things she can do. To think the dark thoughts and do the dark deeds, and yet still sleep at night. To not have to stop meself from turning fools into frogs or cursing their families." She looked at Tiffany. "And I could do it too. Everyone knows I'm the best. If I ever gave in I would sweep across the plains like a dark terror."
Tiffany nodded. "I know. But you won't. because you're Granny Weatherwax."
"Right," Granny said. She looked at Tiffany. "And you?"
"I… I'm me. And I won't let myself either."
"Not like you had much opportunity," Granny said. Tiffany coughed politely. "Okay so ye could have been that way when you had the Queen offering you things, and when the Hiver had yer body, or when you had that Wintersmith tripping over himself for ya." She looked at Tiffany.
Tiffany looked back. As one they both nodded slowly.
Lillian came out and found Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax waiting for her. She gasped and extended her hands at the old woman, her fingers burning with magic. "What do you want old woman?"
Granny smiled nastily. "I hear tell you make a nice coup of tea." She glanced at Tiffany.
Lillian was surprised, but she was also a with. She recovered quickly. "So… you wish to visit?"
"If you like," Granny said.
Lillian looked at Tiffany who smiled .back at her. It clicked then. "This is a test right?"
"Most things are," the other two said in unison.
"But not for me?" They nodded. "You really want to be my friend?"
"If it's alright," Tiffany said.
Lillian looked them over. Friendship was not something she had a lot of experience with. Most people took a foul turn when they found out you'd happily sell their souls and rip out their hearts just because you were bored. But she could see what Granny and Tiffany were doing. They were testing themselves. Be good, even if she was bad. Stay where they were tempted and they would become stronger.
"Alright," Lillian said happily. "But be warned. There's a good chance I'll end up just killing you."
"Please, try," Granny said.
Lillian had been a witch a long time. She had lived that long by knowing when to push her luck and when not to. She used her magic to summon a table and tea from nothing and the three of them sat down and chatted politely long into the evening.
Just some ideas I had. Hope you liked them.