A spell of flax and fabric
It’s not always just brothers who get transformed. And it’s not always stepmothers who are guilty of the dark magics. The old spells were known to both men and women, though of course the times when it was men who cast them are forgiven and forgotten. I know different. It was my own father who worked the spell, and he meant it for the best. My mother, you see, even after the four of us, was still counted a great beauty. When the soldiers were sighted on the road, he knew what it would mean. He’d heard the stories, though I, his only daughter, was too young to understand them, and small enough to be hidden- in a barrell of all things, while they came through. We had little enough time. And my father could not explain why suddenly we had a peahen and her chicks, but I knew that turquoise colour well enough- the colour of the wedding shawl my mother always wore. Father could not speak, but showed me in gestures that to transform them again, he would have to make clothes for them. Himself.
It has been nearly 7 years, now, since that day. He does not speak, so he cannot argue with me. I could do as I please, bed every boy in the village, run away, work in the tavern.
But instead, I wake him each morning and send him to the reed beds. And I come home to him each evening, and guide his weary hands at the spinning wheel, and at the loom. And I wonder what he will say, when he can say something, and what they will say, when the feathers fall off.