Jean flew unsteadily on her broomstick next to Meg Mowton. She took a deep breath. “I do not get this broomstick thing,” she stated quietly. She coughed quietly. “Umm, not that you’re flying one, I notice…”
“The great spoon’s been in the Mowton family for generations,” noted Meg quietly. She gave the large wooden spoon an affectionate pat. “Quite potent. And you can carry a barrel on it.” Jean glanced at the small keg that lay nestled in the spoon’s bowl. “Fine cider, my Nemain. I could give you a tipple of it, if you’d like?”
“Maybe later,” said Jean.
Meg smiled. “It’s the finest cider in the Marsh. Old Meg doesn’t offer it to just anyone…”
“I said ‘maybe later’, not no,” said Jean quietly.
“Well, I’m simply hoping that this fine cider of mine doesn’t go to waste…” continued Meg.
“You’re determined to be the irascible old grandmother I never had, aren’t you?” noted Jean.
Meg considered that for a moment. “More or less,” she agreed.
Jean rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll have the cider when we land.” She raised an eyebrow. “Now--the broomstick thing…”
Meg shrugged. “Well, it’d help if you’d clarify what exactly you mean by that…”
“Why do we fly on broomsticks--non-magical broomsticks--when the damned thing are so hard to fly on?” Jean snapped out.
“Oh!” Meg chuckled. “That’s easy. Because witches fly on broomsticks!”
Jean would have slapped a hand to her forehead, if not for the fact that this would have caused her to lose her grip on the broom. “So… tradition, then?”
“Of course,” said Meg. “Tradition is power. Why do we inhabit roles and titles? Because there’s power in them--contracts and agreements and old bonds. Why do we meet at certain times? Because meeting at those times has worn a groove into the wyrd, so there is power then. Why do we ride broomsticks? Because countless witches have ridden them, and all know this to be so, so that it is easy for any witch to pick one up, and fly.”
Jean blinked. “Ummm… wow. That was… neat and… made sense…” She coughed. “So how do you think it started though? The broomsticks?”
“Who knows?” answered Meg. “Perhaps some witch, for reasons indiscernible to us, made a magic flying broomstick, and it became a fad, then a custom. That’s the problem with tradition after all--too much of it makes no damn sense. The important thing is--whether mortar and pestle, broomstick, or ash wand, it’s the witch that does the flying.” She nodded. “That’s the Copse, up ahead. We should land a little before it.”
Jean nodded and veered her broomstick down. The awful falling feeling came back, though she was slightly less terrified now. Once again, her feet touched gracefully on the ground. She turned to Meg Mowton. “I guess I’ll have that cider now.”
Meg smiled and handed her a cup. “Here you go. Finest cider in the Marsh.”
Jean lifted the cup to her lips and gulped it down. Five seconds later, she was doubled over coughing, with her throat on fire.
“Meg, are you giving my dear little sister your awful hard cider?” asked Viviane quietly as she approached the pair.
“It’s the finest cider in the Marsh!” protested Meg. She looked at the gasping Jean. “I admit it has something of a kick…”
“I’m--okay,” said Jean, breathing deeply. “I’m… okay…”