Hazel and Holly — Wyr Weariness
Previous: Skyward Promises
Hazel stood in the living room of their cottage as Holly held out a box of crystal vials containing a clear liquid.
“Possibility potions,” Hazel said, her voice flat.
“That’s what Odd said they were,” Holly said.
Hazel frowned. She reached out to touch one of the little bottles but pulled her hand back instead. “I don’t understand. How are we supposed to use them?”
Holly shrugged. “He said that it will let us see decisions we never made. He said we might be able to change the decisions we have made.”
Hazel’s frown deepened. She shook her head. “I don’t understand how that’s possible.”
“Well, neither do I, but that’s what he said.”
Hazel raised her eyebrows. “You’re the Hearth witch. Potions are supposed to be your area of expertise.”
Holly stared at the floor. “Hearth’s only my secondary. I’m a Wild witch, really. You know that.”
Hazel let out a breath. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” She waved her hands at the box. “Well? What do we do with them?”
“I-I don’t know. Drink them?”
Hazel wrinkled her nose and took a step back.
“What?” asked Holly.
Hazel shook her head. “I don’t trust them. Potions made by a gnome don’t exactly instill confidence.”
“Iris made them.”
“Which were then tampered by an alleged gnome named Odd.”
“He’s not ‘alleged,’ he really does exist. And you should have seen his workshop, it was amazing. I bet these potions are amazing. They could help us.”
“Or ruin everything.”
“Well… maybe. But I doubt it.”
“You doubt everything sensible.”
“My mistake.” Hazel held up a hand. “Just… hold on to them for now. In case we get desperate or stupid enough to try them out.”
Holly squeaked and jumped up and down. “I hope so!” Then she ran into her room.
Hazel shook her head and walked into the kitchen. On the table sat a thick, worn book nearly the size of a bread basket. She flipped open the cover, narrowing her eyes at the ridiculous, and insulting, title: Waxing Wyr: Deception Made Simple for the Aspiring Witch. Written by a warlock who called himself “Nightshade.” Pompous ass. It was the only book on Wyr magic the Circle had, and so it was all Hazel had to teach herself. But she couldn’t even look at the book without getting angry. She’d have to go to Bellota for help, and that just made her angrier.
She slammed the book shut and poured herself a cup of tea. There was a knock at the door. Hazel ignored it, hoping that whoever it was would go away. She wasn’t in the mood for company, but the knocking continued.
Holly poked her head out of her room. “Are you going to get that?” she called.
“No, are you?”
Holly emitted a loud and exaggerated sigh and then walked to the door. Hazel strained her ears to listen, but all she heard was “kitchen,” and then the door closed and Holly returned to her room.
Hazel turned at the sound of footsteps and found Hemlock standing in the doorway. “Hemlock. What are you doing here?”
He shrugged. “We haven’t spoken in a while. I wanted to see how you were.”
“You mean you wanted to check on me. I assume you’ve heard about my dedication ceremony.”
“I did, but that’s not why I’m here.”
“Is that so?”
He looked off to the side. “All right, perhaps it is. But I’m not here to ‘check’ on you. I just wanted to see how you were doing. To see if… you might need any help.”
“Of course, because a witch couldn’t possibly learn Wyr magic on her own.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“I know it’s true. Do you?”
Hemlock met her gaze. “Wyr magic is a difficult discipline. Books on the subject are notoriously poor, filled with the blustered nonsense of self-important warlocks who are more in love with their own prose than they are with teaching anything of worth. Which means that if you don’t want to subject yourself to the mind-numbing tedium of idiotic warlocks rambling about their own exaggerated qualities, you’ll need to find a witch to teach you, and the only witch that can do that is Bellota.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know the woman well, but she frightens me. I’d not inflict her on anyone.”
Hazel inclined her head. “Not even Hawthorn?”
“Especially not Hawthorn. He’d probably enjoy it.”
Hazel giggled before she could stop herself. Hemlock smiled.
She cleared her throat and straightened her back, trying to regain her composure.
Hemlock clasped his hands and took on a serious expression.
Hazel tightened her mouth, trying to find her previous anger, but it was gone. She sighed. “You’re right, of course.” She jabbed a hand towards the table. “That book is all but worthless. I can barely stand looking at it without wanting to pitch it in the fire.”
“I know the feeling.”
“I mean, really. Nightshade? Does he think that makes him sound mysterious? Intelligent? Scary? His real name’s probably Bogwort or something.”
Hazel snorted and clasped a hand over her mouth. Then she laughed.
Hazel took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. She shook her head. “I don’t know. If I cared enough about Wyr magic I could probably suffer my way through that book. But I don’t, not really. I’m just doing this to find my father, but I’m not sure it’s enough.”
“Let me help you, Hazel,” Hemlock said softly.
Hazel shook her head. “I don’t want your help.”
“I know, but maybe you need it. We all need help sometimes, whether we want it or not.”
“And how do you propose to help? Warlocks aren’t supposed to teach witches, you know.”
“And witches aren’t supposed to teach warlocks. Yes, I’ve read the pamphlets.”
He shrugged. “I thought you might like to take the opportunity to snub some our society’s more asinine rules.”
Hazel grinned. “Well, I do love a good snubbing.”
Hemlock grinned along with her. “I was hoping you would.”
Next: Aired Affections