Once upon a time in a land far, far away, a witch lived in the forest with her crusty old cat, Scratches. The witch was once in the favour of the King’s court and was the beloved friend of his only daughter, Princess Ophelia, but her intense love of beans left her with a flatulence problem that would clear a midnight ball faster than you could count to three.

After gassing half the room at the Mayfair Ball, the King had had enough. He gave her an ultimatum: the royal court, or the beans. The witch thought about it for one day and one night, and decided that a life with no beans was no life at all, so she opted to leave the kingdom and save the delicate senses of the court and its guests and live alone with her gas in the forest. She was given Scratches, the royal cat, for company, although the feline was not exceptionally thrilled at having to live with the stench of the witch’s bean musk. However, the latter had saved him from the chambermaid’s son, who would catch a hold of Scratches and delight in spinning him around his head like a whirlybird before launching him into the atmosphere. So the cat kept the witch company out of a sense of loyalty.

One day, a handsome prince came tumbling through the forest on his gallant white horse, lost in the woods. He came upon the witch’s cozy cottage and rapped on the door. Peeping out the window, the witch saw a tall, handsome man with strapping thighs, a broad chest, a slavic jaw line and dark, thick hair. His face looked kind of like Christian Bale, but Batman Christian Bale, not The Machinist Christian Bale in which he looked like The Grim Reaper. Now, you probably have a picture in your head when you think of a witch — hunched back, gray straw-like hair, yellow teeth like a chewed up fence and a hooked nose with a wart the size of a grapefruit on it. The witch did not look anything like this. In fact, she was young and beautiful. She had caramel skin, big wide eyes, and long, curly ‘morning after’ hair. And she had had the wart surgically removed.

The witch stuck her head out the window:

“Hello good sir! How can I help you?”

“It seems I am lost,” the prince replied. “Could you possibly point me in the way of Grayling castle?”

“I could,” said the witch, “but won’t you come in first for a cup of tea?” Because a cat could only give so much company, and the witch was going through a major dry spell since John the carpenter got his sinusitis fixed and smelled one of her exceptionally ripe blasts during one of their weekly trysts.

“You look like you’ve been riding long and hard and could use a soft place to rest your…legs,” she continued.

“Well, I am a bit thirsty,” the prince replied, because the witch was hot and he was a red blooded man. He climbed off his horse and tethered her to a post outside the witch’s door and came inside.

The cottage was warm and inviting, and there was a fire going in the kitchen. The witch bade the prince sit at the table while she prepared a pot of tea. She excused herself to “pop to the loo” so she could put on just enough makeup to subtly look better without him knowing exactly why. She also instructed the razor to shave her legs and gave a few sharp yelps as her bikini line waxed itself (what good is it being a witch if you can’t use your powers for good?) She came out a minute or two later ready for action, and sidled up to the prince.

While drinking their tea, they exchanged a bit of cheesy and ridiculous banter that got them both hot and bothered. In no time at all, his breeches were off, her skirts were raised, and they were doing the deed. But the witch had had refried beans and boiled eggs for breakfast and the pressure from the prince’s weight on her body just aided in pushing the build up of gas out of her rear end. Just as she was about to reach the peak, she let out a loud, long toot that ripped out of her rear end.

“Good God woman!” exclaimed the prince. “Have you no decency?”

“I eat a lot of beans,” the witch replied, but didn’t get much further as the prince’s face had started to turn purple, having finally received the full force of the blast.

Without saying another word he drew his pants up, bolted through the door, and was off on his horse.

What the witch couldn’t know was that the prince suffered from Hyperosmia or, in layman’s terms, a heightened sense of smell. The slightest whiff of stink that would wrinkle the nose of a normal person would drive him near to the brink of madness. Smelling the sulphurous odour expelled from the witch was like being stabbed up the nostrils and through the brain with a dull screwdriver. A swift escape into the fresh air was his only choice.

“Well,” the witch sighed. “I hope he at least finds the castle…”

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He did, eventually. The witch heard later from an old crone who visited from time to time (she also loved beans, so the occasional stink didn’t bother her), that the prince had found his way to the castle almost passed out on is horse and had to be revived with smelling salts. He claimed to have been attacked by “a vicious creature that tried to kill him with her devil scent.” No matter, he was still in time to get on with the wedding preparations — his own wedding, to Princess Ophelia.

Of course, Ophelia was beautiful and fair and helped the poor and did the sewing and blah blah blah fairy tale fairy tale. She and the witch used to spend hours laughing and gossiping together about which Baron was shagging which Duchess (or Duke, as as it were) and which Countess was getting it on with the stable boy after hours.

Ophelia didn’t mind the witch’s affliction too much; it was just a matter of rubbing some sharp smelling herb salve right under the nose and you were more or less cocooned in a bubble of mint, impervious to the goings on of the witch’s caboose. She rather missed the witch’s company — indeed, she was her only real friend. She knew the witch’s powers were rather useless — she had been the runt of the witch’s litter — otherwise surely she could have fixed her own affliction without having to give up her beloved beans, but Ophelia didn’t care about all that. Instead, the princess was preoccupied with worrying about her upcoming nuptials, and wishing she could talk about her misgivings with her friend.

She did not want to get married, much less to a man she didn’t know and had never met, but such were the times that this decision was not in her hands. Given a choice, she would have liked to have been an architect and build fashionable, contemporary castles. But that was not in the cards for her. She hoped, at least, that the prince was a good and kind man who might allow her to study at least a little bit of architecture.

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The prince was a horrible man. Ophelia took exactly three minutes to develop a deep and abiding dislike. He was hot as all get out but it was clear that he knew it and thought it was enough to get by in the world (which, in actual fact, it was). He was also lecherous and had wandering eyes. He had introduced himself most graciously to Ophelia’s breasts but spared only a passing glance at her face, refocusing on the curve of her ass under her dress once she turned to walk away. Since then, she had learned that the prince had no manners whatsoever. He treated the servants like animals and the animals like the dirt under his shoe. He tried repeatedly to get her into bed — knowing full well that there was no way this would happen before the wedding — and told her with each refusal that “persistence beats resistance”, whatever the hell that meant. When he wasn’t trying to get under her corset, he ignored her completely in favour of trying to get in the underpants of any pretty young lady floating through the castle. In short, he was a douchebag. He was, in fact, the douchiest of bags. And he was to be her husband. Hurrah. She tried to think of a way to put a stop to this farce of a wedding, but she couldn’t see any way to avoid marrying this lecher. She sat with her head in her hands and wondered why the gods had cursed her in this way.

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The old crone, who picked up acorns around the castle walls (no one knew what she would do with them, and she would never tell) and did odd jobs around the place was cleaning the windows when she heard Princess Ophelia lamenting her fate, and this she regaled to the witch when she had stopped by the latter for prune cake and tea.

The witch was distressed to know that her friend was in such dire straits. She had a habit of attracting douche bags herself (see, Prince, sex with, chapter one) because they were so often good in the sack, but she wanted better for Ophelia, who she knew had no interest in marriage and wanted instead to be a career woman. She vowed to help her friend out of her predicament.

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It was a bright and sunny day when the witch made her way to the castle grounds and commanded some pebbles to rap at Ophelia’s high window. The princess was overjoyed to see her friend and helped her sneak into to the castle. After a quick catch up and gossip sesh, Ophelia filled the witch in on her Prince Problem. It seemed that the witch had made it just in time — the wedding was to take place in three days time.

“Mirella (for that was the witch’s name), you have to help me!” said Ophelia. “There’s no way I can spend the rest of my life tethered to that brute. My maids-in-waiting have all complained that he’s pinched all their bottoms and tried to stick his tongue down half their throats!”

The witch assured the princess that they would find a way to stop the wedding. Now, despite the fact that she could barely pull a potion together, couldn’t get into Hogwarts despite repeated applications, and was hard pressed to tell a devil’s toad from a spitting frog (which was basic witchery 101), Mirella was determined to do her damndest.

On the first night, she brewed a potion that would temporarily distort the princess’ bones to make her desperately fat and ugly for 24 hours. No doubt the Prince would be so grossed out that he would call off the wedding. But unfortunately, the potion backfired in the most spectacular way, making the princess look more like Scarlett Johannssen with a JLO ass extension than like Shrek’s wife, Fiona. The Prince was more turned on than ever when he saw his would-be bride at dinner that evening.

The next night, she made another potion that would rapidly age the princess to 103 years old. Her back was supposed to hunch, her hair to thin to scalp-revealing wisps, her teeth to fall out, and her skin to wrinkle and hang from her bony frame. Instead, it simply gave her hiccups, which annoyed the Prince, but wasn’t enough to deter him.

When Ophelia got back to her chambers on that second night, she flung herself on her bed and wept while Mirella looked on in dismay. She was doing the best she could, but nothing was working.

“Oh Mirella, must I really be made to marry this vile man?” cried the princess. “Only yesterday the stable boy caught him with his hands down the cook’s frock and his other down his breeches!”

Mirella was distressed. Her ineptitude at witching was bunging everything up. The pressure of it all was building in her gut (although that day’s steady supply of beans was also to blame), so she leaned to one side and let one rip, to get some much-needed relief.

“Jesus Christ, Mirella — did something die in your intestinal tract?” said the princess, who, in her distress, had forgotten to use her minty salve that day.

“You know I love me some beans, Ophelia.”

And then, just like that! She knew how she would save the day.

“Beans, Ophelia, Beans!”

The princess’ eyes opened wide with understanding. “Beans!” she repeated, with glee. With haste, she ordered the cooks to whip up as many bean-based dishes as she could eat. Three bean dip, lentil soup, broad bean chili, and kidney bean pie. She snacked on roasted chickpeas until bedtime, ‘til her stomach was bloated and taut. She woke up to beans on toast for breakfast, noshed on beans and olives for her mid-morning snack, and enjoyed a bean and barley soup for lunch. The witch was in bean heaven — nothing could be more perfect than beans morning, noon and night — but Ophelia was full to bursting with the effects of all the legumes and pulses. It would be worth it, though, if it sent the Prince running.

By dinnertime, Ophelia was ready to pop. She met the Prince at the usual time and no sooner did she say “good evening” than she started letting out the pressure like a slowly deflating balloon.

“Heavenly father, what is that disgusting smell? Did something die in here?” he asked, his napkin held before his nose.

“Oh dear, I’m afraid you’ve found me out,” said Ophelia. “I have a condition, you see, that causes my nethers to release the most noxious gases! I’ve been hiding it this past two days, but now that we know each other so well and are to be married, I thought it best for you to know the real me, flaws and all.”

“Uhhhh,” said the Prince, his eyes crossing.

Ophelia continued to release a series of silent but deadly (but sometimes also loud, rip-roaring and deadly) bombs, until the Prince was entombed in a sulphurous fug. She puffed and puffed until the prince went green at the gills. Finally, he jumped up in haste yelling “This is the devil’s work!” and ran through the door and out the castle, never to be heard from again.

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The King was outraged at the prince’s reneging of the marriage contract, but all attempts to contact the latter’s castle went unanswered. As he was the only eligible monarch in the Seven Lands of Grayling, there was no hope of finding a suitable husband for Ophelia anytime soon. The princess convinced her father to let her apprentice with the castle architects so as to ‘keep out of the way’ and not ‘give her idle hands over to the devil’.

And as for the witch; the princess let it be known through the gossip circuits that she was willing to pay one purse of gold to anyone who could find a cure for smelly gas. A witch (who had gone to Hogwarts and was exceptionally good at potions) created an elixir, one drop of which taken first thing in the morning would turn the smell of Mirella’s gaseous wind from rotten eggs to sea breeze. Now she could enjoy her beans without driving people to near suicide. The King, who loved the smell of the ocean, was happy to invite the witch back into the royal court, where she (and Scratches, too!) could happily gossip with her friend the whole night through.

And they all lived happily ever after.

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Originally published on Medium’s The Coffeelicious

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