“Because she did not listen to me, love.” Smelling of rich evergreen and roses, the old woman pulled her ten-year-old granddaughter into her plump arms.
“Papa doesn’t want me.” Ninian tried not to snivel as she curled into the first welcoming embrace she could remember receiving.
“Because you are a Malcolm, and men fear what they do not understand. You’ll see when you are older.”
“Papa says I am a witch, Grandmama. I’m not a witch, am I?”
“You’re a Malcolm, dear, and that’s nearly the same. Witches can accomplish great good if they listen to their elders and do as they’re told.” The old woman set her away and straightened Ninian’s shoulders. “Sit up here beside me, and I’ll read you a story.” She patted an ancient leather-bound book in her lap.
“My mama didn’t want me to be a witch,” Ninian whispered, suddenly frightened as she climbed onto the chair and sensed her grandmother’s determination.
“Your mama denied what she was, love, and she died of it. Never deny who you are, and you’ll live a long and happy life.”
“Who I am?” she inquired, snuggling into her grandmother’s powdery embrace, momentarily reassured by her promises.
“A Malcolm, my dear,” the old lady repeated. “Be proud and grateful for your heritage. We can have anything we want, if we want it hard enough. We must never deny who we are, as the story tells us. An Ives once tried to force his Malcolm lady to deny her heritage, and it nearly destroyed the village.”
Ninian loved stories. Happily, she settled down to listen.