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originmsd t1_j4p4tw2 wrote

"What do you mean I have to marry him?!"

The young witch's older sisters roared with laughter, while the teenage prince smiled sheepishly. Gale turned to her familiar, a wizened owl who was sitting on a wooden perch.

"Their culture is matrilocal. Surely you're read about such cultures in your studies."

Gale's face turned red. She put her hands behind her back and twitched her lips. "I uh, I haven't been keeping up with Mortal Anthropology 101 as much as I said I was."

The owl tilted its head unnaturally, as owls do. "That much is obvious."

Gale turned to her sisters. "So what exactly is matri-whatever and why does it mean I have to marry the little snot?"

"Um, I'm right here, love."

Gale froze, her eyes shifting in alarm at being called "love".

The oldest sister, Breeze, took a step forward. "Most mortal human cultures are what anthropologists call 'patrilocal'. Males tend to stay in one place, while females move around. It's a bit like those male birds who establish territories and then build nests to attract females. Sometimes, families will pay a dowry, a sort of reward, to a family with a son who takes in their daughter."

"... Ok. Glad I'm not a normal human."

Breeze put her hands on her hips. "Yes, well, human cultures are very diverse. Although not as common, matrilocal societies do exist, where the men move around to get taken in by families with daughters. These societies tend to have equal divisions of labor within the household by the way."

"You could certainly use a man around the house. This place is filthy." The young prince tsk'ed as he examined a nearby bookshelf.

"Don't... touch... anything." Gale pointed at him accusingly.

"You mean don't touch anything, love." He held up a finger in his defense. "Contrary to popular belief we do have standards, you know?"

Gale rolled her eyes and turned back to her sister. "Ok ok ok. You mentioned something about a dowry. Since I'm taking the prince in, shouldn't they be paying me a dowry?"

"Not necessarily. The kingdom of Ning Lai is very egalitarian. There it's customary for the more powerful of the two families to pay the dowry. And although his family is royalty, you are a witch with supernatural powers, which puts you on an even higher tier."

Gale's face froze. "... So... by helping the royal family and asking for their son in return... I basically paid a fucking dowry."

The owl chimed in. "That is indeed how your actions would be interpreted by their society, yes."

Gale turned to the young prince, who was sniffing some smudged vials on a nearby work bench. "I don't suppose you come with a receipt?"

"Well, if you harm me in some way, my family could demand I be returned."

Gale raised her palm towards the prince, fingers crackling with lightning. Hurricane and Breeze moved in to try to restrain her.

"BUT!" The prince held another finger up. "Breaking a dowry contract with the royal family could also be considered an act of war! And my mother is very temperamental. Even you can't fight off twenty battalions of longbow archers."

Gale lowered her hand and started whining. Breeze breathed a sigh of relief.

"I kinda like this kid." Hurricane chuckled.

"I'm TOO YOUNG to be married!" Gale cried.

"Technically you're a century older than him." Breeze chuckled.

"I'll have you all know I'm very immature for my age." Gale huffed.

"That much is also obvious." The owl said.

Breeze folded her arms. "We might be able to find a non-violent way out of this for you, but it isn't going to be an easy fix. Meanwhile you'll just have to deal with the situation as best you can."

Gale sighed and turned back to the prince, who was now taking a dust sample of the window sill with his finger. "Your name is Dan right?"

"Dan love." He corrected without even looking at her.

"Ok, Dan love. Clean this place up I guess."

"Wrong. You and I are going to clean this place together. And we're going to reorganize that bookshelf. Then we have time I'm going to the farmer's market to get some proper ingredients for that travesty you call a kitchen. I'm not going to subsist on eye of newt and beetles. I'll need an allowance for that by the way."

Gale blinked at the young prince rhythmically while her sisters stifled more chuckles.

"Y-yes, love."