There was once an old widow who lived a lonely life on the outskirts of a village. She was a lively old woman before her husband grew weary of the world and passed on into the next life, but then she turned nasty, recoiling from her neighbours if they so much as looked at her until, finally, she shut herself off from the world completely.
But that didn’t stop the world from coming to her.
Once a day, every day, she would hear a knock at her door and, upon opening it, she would find a peasant from the local village looking down at her hunch-backed self with a basket full of produce to give her. Each time a villager came to her door with their arms bearing gifts, she would open the door to them, snatch whatever they’d brought her from their grasp and swiftly slam the door in their faces.
However, if a peasant were to turn up at her door with their pockets empty of gold to give and arms carrying nothing but air, she’d sneer and snarl and snap at them before muttering under her breath a spell to make sparks shoot up from the doorstep and scare them away. If she was lucky, she may even get to see a peasant get caught by a spark and promptly go up in flames.
Growing tired of the constant disturbances, the old woman began to devise a plan to rid herself of her pesky neighbours. She laboured all day and night over a large cauldron, throwing in all sorts of horrid things from rats tails to cow dung, until she was finally finished. Now all she needed was a victim to test it on.
The next day, as punctual as ever, there came a sharp knock at the front door and when the old crone opened it she found a young man standing on her door step, his arms laden with nothing.
On this day, rather than chase him off with sparks as she normally would, she made a most unusual gesture.
"Fancy a brew?" she said with a wicked grin as she invited the young man inside and sat him at her kitchen table.
She filled a teapot with her ominous brew, then she set in front of him a cup and filled that too with the tea and he drank. But, as soon as the liquid touched his lips… crack! He exploded in a fit of feathers.
"That’ll teach you to be bothering me!" cackled the old crone as she looked down at her kitchen floor and what remained of the young man. There upon the flagstones, as if by magic, was a single chicken pecking at some crumbs on the floor. She kicked the chicken away and shuffled into the living room, triumphant and cackling all the way.
From that day on, the clever witch didn’t have to use her magic to shoo people from her threshold again.
Instead she‘d say, "Fancy a brew?" and invite her guests inside, sit them at her kitchen table and fetch them a cup. She would fill their cups, and as they raised the cups to their lips, her smile would grow until… crack! Where there was formerly a person there would now be a chicken.
Eventually, the villagers grew wise to the goings on in the old crone’s house, but not wise enough. Each day they would send more people to search for the missing, only to have the witch invite them in for a drink of her hexed brew.
She kept opening her door to visitors until every villager had been turned into a chicken and trapped inside her little cottage.
"Peace and quiet at last!" cried the nasty sorceress, settling down to sleep in the knowledge that no more village people would be knocking on her door in the coming days. But what she failed to realise was that whilst her days would no longer be filled with knocks upon her door, she would never be able to escape the constant clucking of the people she’d captured and turned to poultry.
Cluck, cluck, cluck, went the chickens as the old woman lay in bed and all through the night, the old witch tossed and turned, trying to escape the noise coming from her prisoners but to no avail.
When dawn broke a deafening sound erupted as the cockerels crowed to the new day. The witch, fed up with all the noise, shot up out of bed.
"Blast you wretched creatures!" she roared as she ferociously grabbed the chickens and threw them out the window one by one. "Blast you all to hell!"
The chickens, however, did not take kindly to being handled so roughly. The witch, blinded by her fury and preoccupied with removing the birds from her home, did not see as the chickens began to flap their wings and she did not notice when their clucking grew louder and louder.
She did notice as they began to peck at her clothes.
"Shoo, you foul creatures," she said, kicking the chickens away as they pecked her. "Shoo!"
But the chickens pecking did not cease. In fact, more and more chickens began to peck at the wicked sorceress, and as more chickens began to peck the sorceress grew more frantic, grabbing at the chickens as quickly as she could.
The chickens she had created did not like this one bit and saw fit to stop her.
Within a matter of seconds, chickens were flying at the witch’s face, pecking at every inch of her they could reach. Feathers were flying and the crones’ shrill shrieks were drowned out by the din of the furious birds.
The old crone, who was soon overcome by the flapping birds and their incessant pecking, stopped grabbing at the chickens in her attempt to rid herself of them and fell to the ground: dead.
One by one the village people returned to their former less feathery selves, each with a small pop, and fled the old woman’s cottage, running down the street to their homes.
The villagers, distraught by their experience with the witch, grew to never trust magic again and they all soon forgot the old woman and how she had so rudely disregarded their kindness.
A/N: It's been a long time, huh? Sorry! This little oneshot is based on stories from Tales of Beedle the Bard, and was written two years ago. Thank you all for reading and I hope you've enjoyed it! Any feedback would be VERY welcome, and I hope to have something else up soon [I mean it this time, yo... ain't no lie]. :)
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