“You can’t be a witch. You’re a boy. Boys become warlocks.”
“Is that a boy witch?”
They said, “yes,” but it wasn’t exactly true. Witches lived in the forest and had cauldrons and cats and toads. Witches could walk the edge of a field and learn from the wind why your cows were dry. A witch could find water with a willow branch. And witches were, if not in the village, near your village.
Warlocks had to go off and live in towers filled with alchemical equipment. Warlocks learned to turn the tides of battles and how to control the weather. Warlocks worked and lived alone. You heard stories about a man discovering his wife was a witch. You never heard stories of a woman discovering her husband was a warlock.
He was a warlock for many years and mostly hated it. But one thing he noticed is that no one came by to check. They didn’t make sure that he was a boy. At first, he’d assumed they’d had some magical means of sorting and of keeping things sorted—girls became witches, boys became warlocks, and there was just nothing to be done about it; they’d know if you tried to be the other and they’d stop you.
But now he knew enough magic to know that wasn’t the case.
And so the man came down from his tower, wandered through the woods until he found a suitable spot and he built himself a fine sturdy house, with a thatched roof and a large fire place with room for a substantial cauldron. He befriended his neighborhood toads. A cat came to live with him. He learned the languages of the forests and the fields. He could make a cow go dry as well as bring its milk back. He married a local girl.
He was what he was and he was happy.
And yet, still, whenever someone would make her way down his forest path and bravely knock upon his door, she would call out “Oh, great wizard, help me,” because, even if people had to admit he wasn’t a warlock, they could not accept that he was a witch.